Whatever Their Cause, the Recent Explosions at Iranian Military Bases Are a Setback for the Ayatollahs’ Race for Nuclear Weapons

On Thursday, there was a fire—apparently caused by an explosion—at the uranium-enrichment facility in the Iranian city of Natanz. The incident followed closely on the heels of an explosion at the Parchin military facility, also connected to the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, and another at a building in Tehran that left nineteen dead. While Israel has not commented on any of these incidents, there are reports that it was behind at least one. A few weeks earlier, Tehran set off an exchange of cyberattacks between the two countries. Yoav Limor analyzes the situation:

Assuming the blast [in Natanz] was indeed intentional, it would be a tremendous success for the attacker: in terms of the intelligence compiled on the classified facility, knowledge of the activities taking place there, and ability to infiltrate the premises undetected to place a bomb precisely where it would cause maximal damage to the sensitive equipment. The bewildered and hesitant responses from the Iranian authorities not only indicate their astonishment that their secret installation was exposed and damaged, but also their lack of certainty regarding the attacker’s identity and how exactly he was able to succeed.

Even before all the details surrounding the alleged sabotage have emerged, it appears safe to conclude that this was the worst setback to Iran’s nuclear program since its centrifuges were incapacitated in 2010 at the same site at Natanz [by a joint American-Israeli cyberattack]. It also reveals to the world—yet again—the scope of Iran’s investment in its nuclear program as its economy buckles under U.S. sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic, and its policies on these fronts are being met with increasing internal criticism.

Naturally, Tehran pointed its finger at Israel as responsible for the attack, [and] could seek revenge. The quickest way for Iran to harm Israel, if it is in fact behind the attack, is through its proxies in Syria. Although these militias have been degraded recently through a string of airstrikes attributed to Israel, . . . it remains likely that similar weapons are still in Syria or can be shipped there in relatively short order.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Iranian nuclear program, Israeli Security

Iran’s Four-Decade Strategy to Envelope Israel in Terror

Yesterday, the head of the Shin Bet—Israel’s internal security service—was in Washington meeting with officials from the State Department, CIA, and the White House itself. Among the topics no doubt discussed are rising tensions with Iran and the possibility that the latter, in order to defend its nuclear program, will instruct its network of proxies in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and even Iraq and Yemen to attack the Jewish state. Oved Lobel explores the history of this network, which, he argues, predates Iran’s Islamic Revolution—when Shiite radicals in Lebanon coordinated with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s movement in Iran:

An inextricably linked Iran-Syria-Palestinian axis has actually been in existence since the early 1970s, with Lebanon the geographical fulcrum of the relationship and Damascus serving as the primary operational headquarters. Lebanon, from the 1980s until 2005, was under the direct military control of Syria, which itself slowly transformed from an ally to a client of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The nexus among Damascus, Beirut, and the Palestinian territories should therefore always have been viewed as one front, both geographically and operationally. It’s clear that the multifront-war strategy was already in operation during the first intifada years, from 1987 to 1993.

[An] Iranian-organized conference in 1991, the first of many, . . . established the “Damascus 10”—an alliance of ten Palestinian factions that rejected any peace process with Israel. According to the former Hamas spokesperson and senior official Ibrahim Ghosheh, he spoke to then-Hizballah Secretary-General Abbas al-Musawi at the conference and coordinated Hizballah attacks from Lebanon in support of the intifada. Further important meetings between Hamas and the Iranian regime were held in 1999 and 2000, while the IRGC constantly met with its agents in Damascus to encourage coordinated attacks on Israel.

For some reason, Hizballah’s guerilla war against Israel in Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s was, and often still is, viewed as a separate phenomenon from the first intifada, when they were in fact two fronts in the same battle.

Israel opted for a perilous unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, which Hamas’s Ghosheh asserts was a “direct factor” in precipitating the start of the second intifada later that same year.

Read more at Australia/Israel Review

More about: First intifada, Hizballah, Iran, Palestinian terror, Second Intifada