Israel’s intelligence agency reportedly recruited a team of Iranian nuclear scientists to cause major destruction at the Islamic Republic’s Natanz nuclear facility last April.
By Erin Viner
Up to 10 Iranian scientists agreed to sabotage the highly-secured facility, according to an exclusive report by the Jewish Chronicle (JC), although they believed they were working on behalf of international dissident groups and not Israel.
A blast demolished the underground A1000 centrifuge hall at Natanz, which is protected from air assault by 40 feet of concrete and iron, in an attack that Tehran immediately blamed on Jerusalem. Explosives were allegedly dropped by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or concealed inside of food boxes brought into the complex.
The mission succeeded in destroying 90% of the 5,000 centrifuges at the plant, which was put out of production for up to 9 months – delaying progress toward the building of an atomic bomb and causing “chaos in the highest echelons of the Iranian leadership,” reported the Chronicle.
The incident was 1 of 3 connected Mossad operations over an 11-month period, said the London-based weekly newspaper, including another explosion at the Iran Center for Advanced Centrifuges (ICAC) warehouse at Natanz in 2 July 2020 and an armed “quadcopter assault” on the TESA Karaj complex on 23 June 2021. The operations were reportedly “planned together over an 18-month period by a team of 1,000 technicians, analysts and spies, as well as scores of agents on the ground.”
The report comes amid the 7th round of negotiations between world powers and Iran in Austria to restart the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), resuming this week after a 5-month suspension prompted by the election of hardline President Ebrahim Raisi.
Speaking at a ceremony awarding certificates of excellence to Mossad agents last night, the agency’s Director David Barnea reiterated that “Iran will never have nuclear weapons.” He went on to describe the JCPOA “unbearable,” and expressed hope that efforts to revive the pact will not be successful.
Israel has long opposed the JCPOA as insufficient to prevent the development of nuclear weapons by Iran, which began openly violating atomic curbs after then-US President Donald Trump withdrew from the pact in 2018.
The Ayatollah regime has repeatedly vowed to annihilate the Jewish State. Israel has consistently warned that its arch-enemy will try to secure a windfall in sanctions relief at the talks, without sufficiently rolling back nuclear bomb-making potential through its accelerated enrichment of uranium.
In stunning developments that appear to undercut efforts to bring both Iran and the US back into compliance with the JCPOA, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) revealed Wednesday that the Islamic Republic has now begun to produce enriched uranium with more efficient advanced centrifuges at its Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP).
The JCPOA completely forbids any uranium enrichment at the underground FFEP facility, highlighting just how badly the deal has eroded.
Iran has started the process of enriching uranium to up to 20% purity with one cascade, or cluster, of 166 advanced IR-6 machines at Fordow, said the United Nations nuclear watchdog organization. These machines are far more efficient than the first-generation IR-1.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett discussed the IAEA report in a telephone conversation on Iran’s nuclear advances and the Vienna Talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken yesterday.
In a statement obtained by TV7, Prime Minister Bennett told the Washington’s top diplomat that the Islamic Republic is “carrying out ‘nuclear blackmail; as a negotiation tactic and that this must be met with an immediate cessation of negotiations and by concrete steps taken by the major powers.”