Was Israel Behind a Deadly Explosion at an Iranian Missile Base?
By Karl Vick / Jerusalem Sunday, Nov. 13, 2011
Israeli newspapers on Sunday were thick with innuendo, the front pages of the three largest dailies dominated by variations on the headline “Mysterious Explosion in Iranian Missile Base.” Turn the page, and the mystery is answered with a wink. “Who Is Responsible for Attacks on the Iranian Army?” asks Maariv, and the paper lists without further comment a half-dozen other violent setbacks to Iran’s nuclear and military nexus. For Israeli readers, the coy implication is that their own government was behind Saturday’s massive blast just outside Tehran. It is an assumption a Western intelligence source insists is correct: the Mossad — the Israeli agency charged with covert operations — did it. “Don’t believe the Iranians that it was an accident,” the official tells TIME, adding that other sabotage is being planned to impede the Iranian ability to develop and deliver a nuclear weapon. “There are more bullets in the magazine,” the official says.
The powerful blast or series of blasts — reports described an initial explosion followed by a much larger one — devastated a missile base in the gritty urban sprawl to the west of the Iranian capital. The base housed Shahab missiles, which, at their longest range, can reach Israel. Last week’s report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran had experimented with removing the conventional warhead on the Shahab-3 and replacing it with one that would hold a nuclear device. Iran says the explosion was an accident that came while troops were transferring ammunition out of the depot “toward the appropriate site
More at the link. And then there’s this, from The Telegraph:
Iran claims defence computer systems hit by another ‘supervirus’
Iran says its defence computer systems have been infected with another “supervirus” known to be similar to one which severely damaged its nuclear programme last year.
By Richard Spencer, Middle East Correspondent
2:59PM GMT 14 Nov 2011
Anti-virus experts last month identified a virus called “Duqu” that they said shared properties with the now famous “Stuxnet” worm, which spread across the world but is thought to have been successfully targeted at the nuclear programme’s centrifuges, the devices that enrich uranium to create nuclear fuel.
It was not clear on Monday from the Iranian statement whether Duqu had also struck nuclear facilities, but it was the first admission of damage.
“We are in the initial phase of fighting the Duqu virus,” Gholamreza Jalali, the head of Iran’s civil defence programme, said. “The final report which says which organisations the virus has spread to and what its impacts are has not been completed yet.
“All the organisations and centres that could be susceptible to being contaminated are being controlled.”
Although Mossad and other western intelligence agencies makes no comment on sabotage operations against Iran or any other country, there is little doubt that they are an important component of attempts to prevent Iran developing nuclear weapons.
Naturally, there’s no official comment from Israel, though there’s just enough unofficial bragging being leaked to let the Iranians know/fear that their suspicions are correct. Just about everyone paying any attention to this assumes that the Israelis were probably behind these things, and that’s just about the level of confirmation Israel would want. It’s kind of like the purported Israeli arsenal of nuclear weapons; everyone assumes that they have them, usually giving a number of between 100 and 200 warheads, but Israel has never confirmed nor denied the reports.
The stories quoted above follow on the heels of this one, also from The Telegraph:
Israel has refused to reassure President Barack Obama that it would warn him in advance of any pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear capabilities, raising fears that it may be planning a go-it-alone attack as early as next summer.
By Adrian Blomfield, in Jerusalem
7:49PM GMT 12 Nov 2011
The US leader was rebuffed last month when he demanded private guarantees that no strike would go ahead without White House notification, suggesting Israel no longer plans to “seek Washington’s permission”, sources said. The disclosure, made by insiders briefed on a top-secret meeting between America’s most senior defence chief and Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s hawkish prime minister, comes amid concerns that Iran’s continuing progress towards nuclear weapons capability means the Jewish state has all but lost hope for a diplomatic solution.
On Tuesday, UN weapons inspectors released their most damning report to date into Iran’s nuclear activities, saying for the first time that the Islamic republic appeared to be building a nuclear weapon. It was with that grave possiblity in mind that Leon Panetta, the US defence secretary, flew into Israel last month on what was ostensibly a routine trip.
Let’s be honest here: President Obama doesn’t trust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and vice versa. There was the famous live microphone gaffe in which French President Nicolas Sarkozy was overheard telling President Obama that he “couldn’t stand” Mr Netanyahu, and that the Israeli Prime Minister was a “liar,” a characterization with which Mr Obama expressed no disagreement. I’ve never met Mr Netanyahu, and have absolutely no idea whether President Sarkozy’s characterization is accurate or not, but it isn’t hard for me to believe that, at least when it comes to preserving the safety and security of Israel, the Prime Minister would do whatever he believed it required, with lying certainly not excluded. He is, after all, a politician.
But if I were the Prime Minister of Israel, and my government had decided that a military strike was the only way to stop the Iranians from building atomic bombs, the President of the United States, regardless of whom that might be, would be about the last person I would inform in advance: it doesn’t seem like any secrets can be kept in Washington, and a secret like that would be way to interesting to expect it to be kept secret. In a town where a Deputy Secretary of State can gossip with a reporter about a spy’s secret identity, and literally think nothing of it until it blows up in his face, it’s easy enough picturing this making the rounds at one of Sally Quinn’s parties. Washington is too much a town all about talk; Israel is a country which actually gets things done.
Assuming that all of these stories are true, it looks like Israel really has decided that diplomacy will not keep Iran from building nuclear weapons, and that a nuclear-armed Iran is an intolerable situation. But it also looks like Israel has found methods of at least delaying Iran’s ability to build and deliver atomic bombs other than an open military attack. That’s pretty smart.