Those who have been paying close attention have been watching the news that is coming out of Iran very closely. There was an incident at the Natanz nuclear site recently that we are still trying to make sense of. Initially, Iran was looking to downplay what had happened. They said that one of their industrial sheds had been damaged in a fire.
By the time Sunday rolled around, they were singing a different tune. Iranian media members published a photo from the site. One side of the building was completely destroyed. As it turns out, the damages that took place had nothing to do with an industrial shed. Their main centrifuge assembly hall has been ruined.
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) July 4, 2020
While this photo looks pretty rough, it is hard to tell how serious the damages are from that angle. At first, the speculation was centered around the idea that a fire was set inside of the facility by some sneaky saboteurs. Some even believed that a cyber attack had taken place. Satellite imagery shows that the assembly hall was probably destroyed by a massive explosion.
Nearly three quarters of the hall have been damaged. Even ISIS president David Albright has confirmed it. “It is clear that a major explosion took place, destroying nearly three-quarters of the main centrifuge assembly hall, generating a fire that blackened a major portion of the building, the blackening visible where the roof had been blown away by the explosion,” says Albright.
Nearly three-quarters of Iran’s main centrifuge assembly hall was destroyed by the recent explosion there, Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) president David Albright told The Jerusalem Post…
“It is clear that a major explosion took place, destroying nearly three-quarters of the main centrifuge assembly hall, generating a fire that blackened a major portion of the building, the blackening visible where the roof had been blown away by the explosion,” Albright said.
The before and after comparison is startling, for sure. It is hard to ignore the fact that some serious damages have taken place here. So why did Iran feel compelled to lie about something that is this obvious? There’s no way for them to salvage this building. There is also one more important question that needs to be answered: who is responsible for what has taken place here?
A group that refers to themselves as the Cheetahs of the Homeland is stepping up to take responsibility. While they are looking to take credit, the Iranians are claiming that they have never heard of this group. The language that was used in their statement is consistent with the language that is used by other exiled Iranian opposition organizations, though. This bears noting.
Iranian experts are now investigating the incident and they are taking all potential possibilities seriously. Some believe that the nuclear site was sabotaged by a foreign nation. When the Stuxnet computer virus outbreak occurred, it was linked to Israeli and American operatives. It is believed that these same operatives could be responsible for the destruction of the site.
.@TheGoodISIS issued a report, analyzing satellite images from #Natanz incident saying it has cost Islamic Republic a huge setback in its nuclear activities. "Advanced centrifuges & the only clean room have been ruined…Images consistent with an explosion & fire.
— IranTrue (@iran_true) July 9, 2020
The New York Times has published a story about the matter, wherein a Middle Eastern intelligence official who declined to reveal their identity tried to place the blame on Israel. An Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps member who was briefed about the attack confirms this account. These officials were only willing to offer confirmation on the condition of anonymity.
A Middle Eastern intelligence official with knowledge of the episode said Israel was responsible for the attack on the Natanz nuclear complex on Thursday, using a powerful bomb. A member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps who was briefed on the matter also said an explosive was used.
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity when discussing sensitive intelligence and operational topics.
Iran’s official statement is a simple one: they are claiming to know who is responsible but they are not willing to name any names. That’s probably the best course of action at this point in time. They need to remain protected from a security standpoint and there isn’t much to be gained by telling the world what they know about what went down.
If the attack came from Israel, Iran has no real motivation to tell anyone about it. It would only make them look like a weakened nation. In fact, it would make the entire region look weak. The only good news here is that the nuclear program in Iran is sure to be set back. This allows the rest of the world to breathe a much needed sigh of relief.
Iran is definitely looking more and more vulnerable these days, that is for sure. This regime can still pose a massive threat to the rest of the world but it will take some time before they can restore this building and continue to build up their nuclear arsenal.