Started, the Clone Wars have-Jedi Master Yoda

It has now become abundantly clear,  a covert war against the Iranian nuclear weapons program has reached a new stage. First Iranian nuclear scientists were sent “swimming with the fishes,” then there was the cyber-warfare attacks such as the Purim virus, Stuxnet, now we are beginning to get confirmation that there have been two major sabotage incidents in the past two weeks.

Two days ago, Iran’s official news agency FARS reported that a loud blast was heard in the city of Isfahan at 2:40 pm local time (6:10am EST). They had since retracted that report. Today two different reports from Israel claimed that there was indeed an explosion,  most probably due to sabotage possibly even being waged by Iran’s first intended target, Israel.
Monday’s blast came two weeks after Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps(IRGC) Gen. Hasan Tehrani Moghaddam and 20 other IRGC members were killed in a massive explosion at a base near the village of Bidganeh, southwest of Tehran. The base was a test site for Iran’s ballistic missile program.

“There aren’t many coincidences,” retired Major-General Giora Eiland told Israel’s army radio, noting that it was the second attack on an Iranian nuclear site in a month.

“When there are so many events, there is probably some sort of guiding hand, though perhaps it’s the hand of God,” said Eiland, who is Israel’s former national security chief.

Israeli intelligence honcho Dan Meridor suggested the guiding hand might be closer to home — and fanned speculation that an undeclared war against Iran was already under way.

“There are countries who impose economic sanctions and there are countries who act in other ways in dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat,” he said.
There are also reports of explosions we may not know about.

A former Israeli intelligence official cited at least two other explosions that have “successfully neutralised” Iranian bases associated with the Shahab-3, the medium-range missile that could be adapted to carry a nuclear warhead. “This is something everyone in the West wanted to see happen,” he added.

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The only thing we know for sure so far is that satellite imagery has proven Monday’s explosion took place inside the nuclear facility.

In Washington, former U.S. intelligence officials said it was extremely unlikely that the CIA would kill Iranian scientists or blow up pipelines because of an executive order that prohibits assassinations. But many say that Mossad, Israel’s spy agency, might engage in such efforts to stave off what the country views as an existential threat.

The former officials say the U.S. has long engaged in sabotage to slow Iran’s nuclear program, including efforts to introduce faulty spare parts.

“We definitely are doing that,” said Art Keller, a former CIA case officer who worked on Iran.

Ervand Abrahamian, an Iran expert at City University of New York, said in an email that many in the Iranian leadership are convinced that Britain, the U.S. and Israel have had a hand in assassinations and sabotage.

“Although these events have received little coverage in the West, they have been front-page news in Iran,” he said.

According to the Times of London Monday’s an Israeli source say the attack was aimed at delaying  Iran’s nuclear weapons program, but that same source stopped short of saying Israel had anything to do with the explosion.

The images clearly showed billowing smoke and destruction, negating Iranian claims yesterday that no such explosion had taken place. Israeli intelligence officials told The Times that there was “no doubt” that the blast struck the nuclear facilities at Isfahan and that it was “no accident”.

There are “many different parties looking to sabotage, stop or coerce Iran into stopping its nuclear weapons program,” the official said

“This caused damage to the facilities in Isfahan, particularly to the elements we believe were involved in storage of raw materials,” said one military intelligence source.

Interestingly this “uptick” in the covert war comes immediately after an internal Israeli discussion on whiter the IAF should attack Iranian nukes, and reports of Israeli refusal warn the US of an impending action against Iran.

What does this all mean?  There is no evidence that this covert war is a secret Mossad operation against Iran. And to be honest, I am not convinced that Israel would act alone. It is just as likely that the reports of an Israeli debate about a major attack that never happened, and an Israeli refusal to share its plans with the US were just a subterfuge to give both countries plausible deny-ability  as they wage a covert war against Iran’s nuclear weapons program.  Stay tuned as this play out.

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