Israel has all but openly admitted it was behind the large-scale blackout at Natanz, Iran’s primary nuclear facility and reactor. The Iranian terror regime’s Atomic Energy Agency acknowledged the cyber-attack had damaged the electricity grid at the site. Israeli defense chief, Aviv Kochavi, said, according to news reports, that the country’s “operations in the Middle East are not hidden from the eyes of the enemy.”
This strike was done as Team Biden continues to push for talks with Iran, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visits Israel.
The Guardian noted that the “apparent attack took place hours after officials at the Natanz reactor restarted spinning advanced centrifuges that could speed up the production of enriched uranium, in what had been billed as a pivotal moment in the country’s nuclear programme.”
Whether this was a cyber-attack or internal sabotage, or a combination of covert efforts, is not yet clear. What is clear is that Israel is sending a very public message.
Israel imposed no censorship restrictions on coverage as it had often done after similar previous incidents. Israeli Public radio took the unusual step of claiming that the Mossad intelligence agency had played a central role.
Israel remains highly focused on neutralizing Natanz, with a mysterious explosion damaging a centrifuge assembly plant last July, and in 2010, a combined CIA and Mossad cyber-attack using the Stuxnet computer virus delayed Iran’s covert nuclear weapons program several years.
But, this is just the most recent clash in the ongoing ‘shadow war’ between Israel and Iran.
As the Guardian explains:
The unexplained shutdown is thought to be the latest in a series of exchanges between the two arch-enemies, who have fought an extensive and escalating shadow war across the Middle East over more than decade, centred on Iran’s nuclear programme and its involvement in matters beyond its borders.
Clashes have more recently been fought in the open, with strikes against shipping, the killing of Iran’s chief nuclear scientist, hundreds of airstrikes against Iranian proxies in Syria, and even a mysterious oil spill in northern Israel, which officials there have claimed was environmental sabotage.
Iran’s nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, called the apparent Israeli action a “terrorist attack” and urged the international community and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to take action against the attackers. The IAEA said it was aware of the reports but declined to comment further.
This attack comes at an awkward time for President Biden as he seeks to re-engage Iran on talks to renew the failed 2015 nuclear deal. And Team Biden responded quickly:
“The United States had no involvement,” a senior administration official speaking on the condition of anonymity told U.S. News almost immediately after receiving an email query, adding, “we have nothing to add to speculation about the causes.”