Tag Archives: covert action against Iran

Sabotaging Parchin? Iran’s nuclear program

parchin 2004

A U.S. security institute said it has located via satellite imagery a section of a sprawling Iranian military complex where it said an explosion or fire might have taken place earlier this week. (pdf).

Iran’s official IRNA news agency on Monday cited an Iranian defence industry body as saying that two workers were killed in a fire at an explosives factory in an eastern district of Tehran.  Iran’s Defence Industries Organisation said the fire broke out on Sunday evening, IRNA said, giving no further detail.  An Iranian opposition website, Saham, described the incident as a strong explosion that took place near the Parchin military complex around 30 km southeast of the capital. It did not give a source and the report could not be independently verified….  The dissident National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) exposed Iran’s uranium enrichment plant at Natanz and a heavy water facility at Arak in 2002. But analysts say it has a mixed track record and a clear political agenda.

The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said it had obtained commercially available satellite imagery on which six buildings at Parchin appeared damaged or destroyed.  However, the images ISIS issued indicated the site of the possible blast was not the same location in Parchin where the U.N. nuclear agency suspects that Iran, possibly a decade ago, carried out explosives tests that could be relevant for developing a nuclear arms capability. Iran denies any such aim.

The U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency wants to visit this area of Parchin, but Iran has so far not granted access. Iran says Parchin is a conventional military facility and that its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful. It has often accused its enemies of seeking to sabotage its atomic activities.

ISIS said its analysis of the satellite imagery from Oct. 7 and 8 indicated an explosion could have taken place at a southern section of Parchin.  “Several signatures that coincide with those expected from an explosion site are visible here,” it said on its website.  “Two buildings that were present in August 2014 are no longer there, while a third building appears to be severely damaged. In total at least six buildings appear damaged or destroyed,” ISIS added.

Israel and the United States have not ruled out military action against Iran if diplomacy fails to resolve a decade-old dispute over Tehran’s nuclear programme. Israel is widely believed to be the Middle East’s only nuclear-armed power.

U.S. think-tank says it located possible blast at Iran military site, Reuters, Oct. 9, 2014

Israel-Iran Covert War based in Azerbaijan; US Leak

Reports that Israel has access to airbases in Azerbaijan, Iran’s uneasy northern neighbor, could point to a strategic shift in the battle lines between the Jewish state and the Islamic Republic — and could affect the smoldering U.S.-Iranian standoff.  Having the use of air bases right on Iran’s doorstep would completely change the military situation for Israel by eliminating one of its major headaches: the distance its strike jets would have to fly to reach their targets in Iran and return to their bases.  The round trip total in excess of 2,200 miles and would necessitate one — possibly two — in-flight refueling, during which the strike aircraft as well as their aerial tankers would be highly vulnerable.  Israel only has a handful of aerial tankers, limiting the size of the strike force.

Having bases in Azerbaijan, a Soviet republic until 1991, would mean the attacking F-16I and F-15I jets could reach their targets without in-flight refueling because, if the reports attributed to U.S. officials are correct, the planes could land in Azerbaijan to fill their fuel tanks and head home.  The Azeri government in Baku has denied it has made any deal with Israel and Israel has refused to validate the reports.  But in recent years, Muslim, pro-Western Azerbaijan has established strong military and intelligence links with Israel while Baku’s relations with Iran have steadily deteriorated.

The U.S. magazine Foreign Report, in its March 28 edition, quoted four senior U.S. diplomats and military intelligence officers as saying Israel has been granted access to airbases in Azerbaijan…..

Now the whole issue gets rather murky.  There are growing suspicions that the report, true or otherwise, was deliberately leaked by the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama as a signal to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the leading proponent of attacking Iran, to back off unilateral Israeli action the U.S. administration believes will ultimately cost America dearly.  “Clearly this is an administration-orchestrated leak,” said Republican hard-liner John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.  “It’s just unprecedented to reveal this kind of information about one of your allies.”

What is clear is that Israel and Azerbaijan are drawing increasingly closer for their mutual advantage and defense.  But Israel’s prime concern is definitely Iran.  Azeri security authorities, in conjunction with the Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence service, have thwarted several plots to attack Israeli targets in Baku, including a school and the embassy.  These operations were blamed on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ elite al-Quds Force and Hezbollah of Lebanon, Tehran’s main proxy in the Middle East and widely perceived as being run by the Guards Corps. The Mossad maintains a sizeable presence in Azerbaijan and reportedly runs clandestine operations inside Iran from there.

Then in January, Israel Aerospace Industries announced it had secured a $1.6 billion contract with a state that wasn’t identified, apparently for censorship reasons…..

U.S. report shifts Israel-Iran battle lines, UPI.com, April 3, 2012