Sabotage of the Iranian Nuclear Horn

Natanz blast looks like traditional sabotage.

By the CyberWire staff

An explosion and fire at Iran’s Natanz uranium processing center on July 2nd was initially reported, by Iranian sources and others, to have been caused or facilitated by a cyberattack, but the incident looks increasingly more like an instance of traditional sabotage. The Washington Post cites an anonymous “Middle Eastern security official” as saying the damage was caused by a bomb placed in the facility, and that the operation was an Israeli effort to “send a message” that would deter Iran from accelerating its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Israeli Foreign Minister Ashkenazi and Defense Minister Gantz issued soft denials of Israel’s involvement, according to the Jerusalem Post, with Gantz stating, “Not every incident that transpires in Iran necessarily has something to do with us.”

The Jerusalem Post says the blast appears to have destroyed nearly three-quarters of the facility’s centrifuge assembly hall. Simon Henderson from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, writing in The Hill, explained that the site is no longer suitable for the assembly of the IR-2m centrifuges necessary to enrich uranium that can be used in nuclear weapons. Henderson added that “from Israel’s point of view, the likelihood of Iran obtaining enough highly-enriched uranium for its first nuclear weapon has been delayed by months, perhaps even years.”

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