Israel was behind drone attacks at military plant in Iran, US media report
By Artemis Moshtaghian and Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN
US officials believe drone attacks at a military plant in Iran‘s central city of Isfahan were carried out by Israel, according to US media reports.
Tehran said on Sunday that drones had attacked the plant in Isfahan late the previous evening, calling the operation “unsuccessful.”
The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times reported that Israel was behind the attacks, citing US officials and people familiar with the operation. The New York Times cited senior intelligence officials who were familiar with the dialogue between Israel and the United States about the incident. None of the officials were named.
CNN has not independently confirmed that information. A US Department of Defense spokesperson told CNN that the US has not conducted strikes or operations inside Iran.
“We’ve seen the press reports, but can confirm that no US military forces have conducted strikes or operations inside Iran. We continue to monitor the situation, but have nothing further to provide,” the spokesperson said.
Iran’s Defense Ministry has not publicly offered any information about who carried out the attack. The Israel Defense Forces declined comment.
“An explosion has occurred in one of the military centers affiliated to the Ministry of Defense,” the deputy head of security for Isfahan governorate Mohammad Reza Jan-Nesari earlier told the semi-official Fars News Agency.
Jan-Nesari said the explosion had left some damage, “but fortunately there were no casualties.”
The state news agency IRNA later said the explosion had been caused by “small drones.”
“There was an unsuccessful attack by small drones against a defense ministry industrial complex and fortunately with predictions and air defense arrangements already in place, one of them (struck),” IRNA said in a post on Twitter, citing the country’s defense ministry.
“The air defense system of the complex was able to destroy two other drones. Fortunately, this unsuccessful attack killed no one and minor damage was sustained to the roof of the complex.”
The ministry said the attack took place at 10:30 p.m. local time Saturday. The plant is about 440 kilometers (270 miles) south of Tehran.
In the past few years, several explosions and suspicious fires have occurred around Iranian military and nuclear facilities.
In July 2020, a fire tore through the Iranian Natanz nuclear complex, a site that has been key to the country’s uranium enrichment program, in Isfahan Province, south of the capital Tehran. Iranian authorities decided not to publicly announce the findings on what caused the fire due to security concerns, according to Iran’s Supreme Nation Security Council.
The following year, a blackout occured in Natanz on the anniversary of National Nuclear Day, with Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI) calling it a “terrorist action.” Israel’s army chief appeared to hint at possible Israeli involvement in the incident.
In October 2019, an oil tanker belonging to the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) was hit and damaged by two missiles. A spokesperson for the National Iranian Tanker Company initially suggested it could have been fired from Saudi soil, but that was later dismissed and the Iran government did not provide an alternative conclusion.
Earlier that year, a truck loaded with explosives detonated and struck a bus carrying members of the Iranian military’s elite Revolutionary Guard in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan, killing at least 23 and wounding 17. A separatist group called Jaish al-Adl, or Army of Justice, claimed responsibility for the suicide attack.
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