Psychological War: How Israel Messes With Iran’s Mind

Israel vs. Iran: Sabotage operation at Natanz harms Iranian nuclear project, but psychological impact of attack is causing extra damage.

Israel vs. Iran: Psychological warfare (Archive: Pixabay)

An interesting aspect of Israel’s alleged attack on Iran’s nuclear facility in Natanz is the confusion surrounding it. Intelligence sources say that the sabotage act seriously harmed Tehran’s nuclear project, but the psychological impact of the strike is causing extra damage.

Reports about the exact details of the operation are vague and conflicting, despite (and largely because) of the many leaks to the media. Initial information suggested that the Natanz site was hit by a cyber strike, and some sources continue to insist on this version.

However, other journalists are claiming that an explosive device caused the severe disruption to the facility’s electric grid. Yossi Yehoshua, a well-connected military reporter, wrote Monday that claims about a cyber operation are wrong.

This and similar reports cited unnamed sources, or no sources at all. Journalists were likely briefed by defense officials, who are apparently providing inconsistent accounts. We can assume that at least some of these efforts are deliberate and are meant to elevate Iranian confusion and concerns.

Intelligence blog Intelli Times estimated that the attackers used cyber tools to access secured networks at Natanz. However, the blog’s analysts later tweeted that details and accounts keep changing. They noted that this dynamic is similar to the previous attack at the site in 2020, and that to this day there is no consistent version of that event.

Iran fails to stop Israel

The latest attack, which increasingly looks like a highly successful operation, delivered a psychological blow on another front. The ability to regularly strike at Iran’s most valuable and secretive assets leaves Tehran constantly concerned about the extent of Israel’s penetration and next steps.

Analysts have previously pointed to the weakness of Iran’s counter-espionage apparatus, which seems to fail time and again. The Iranians are aware of this weak spot and are apparently trying to boost their defenses, partly by signing intelligence cooperation deals with Russia and China.

But for now, it appears that Tehran is unable to stop Israel’s security services. Iranian concerns about this failure could also extend to other areas, such as the military arena. As Iran considers retaliation, the regime likely fears that its moves on other fronts are also visible to Israel’s intelligence apparatus and spy masters.

Still, Iran is moving closer to delivering a significant response to Israel’s actions, several analysts warn. If this happens, the conflict could quickly spiral out of control and spark a serious clash. Notably, the IDF is intensively preparing for a large-scale war against the Iran axis as early as this year.