The Week (US)

Israel: Striking at Iran’s nuclear program

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Iran has just suffered a devastatin­g setback to its nuclear ambitions, said Lahav Harkov in The Jerusalem Post. A huge explosion ripped through its Natanz nuclear facility this week, possibly the result of either a cyberattac­k or a bomb that was snuck onto the site and detonated remotely. Whatever the cause, the blast wrecked the facility’s power systems and damaged advanced centrifuge­s that are housed undergroun­d and used to enrich uranium. It could take Iran nine months to repair and restart enrichment. The explosion occurred as negotiatio­ns began in Vienna to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which eased internatio­nal sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear activities, and which President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. from in 2018. The day before the blast, Iran had breached the terms of that pact by firing up new centrifuge­s at Natanz, giving Tehran a bargaining chip it could surrender during talks “while still ending up closer to a nuclear bomb” than the original deal allowed. Then the saboteurs struck. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not even trying to hide Israel’s involvemen­t, said Alexandra Lukash in Yedioth Ahronoth. In contrast to the normal national policy of “ambiguity”—refusing to confirm or deny such operations—unnamed Israeli officials quickly leaked confirmati­on of the Natanz attack. Such boldness could “limit the country’s ability to carry out future operations.”

Netanyahu has clearly “lost the last of whatever restraint he still had,” said Yossi Verter in Haaretz. Damning evidence has been presented in his ongoing corruption trial, and if he doesn’t cobble together a new governing coalition soon, he will be out of office. With “his future and his freedom” on the line, security officials fear the prime minister may be trying to “start a war with Iran” so he can declare an emergency government. It’s a “dangerous risk,” said Itamar Eichner in Yedioth Ahronoth. The attack occurred as U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was visiting Jerusalem, but that doesn’t mean the U.S. approved. If this attack “results in the outbreak of war, the U.S. may not provide the necessary support.”

The Americans claim to know nothing of the bombing, said Mohammad Akaf in Jam-e-Jam (Iran). But that’s impossible. The “Zionist regime has gotten a green light” from Washington to assist in a series of recent attacks on Iran. These include the assassinat­ions of Revolution­ary Guard commander Qasem Soleimani and top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizade­h, attacks on Iranian advisers in Syria, and a cyberattac­k on Natanz last year that caused a fire. If the Biden administra­tion is unable to control its proxy, then what is the point of the Vienna talks? Why would we agree to new terms if America’s allies refuse to abide by any agreement? Iran must withdraw from the negotiatio­ns “and suspend all nuclear restrictio­ns,” said Kayhan (Iran) in an editorial. We have already begun enriching uranium to 60 percent purity, higher than allowed under the nuclear deal and closer to weapons-grade levels. The next step is to “punish Israel” and “destroy the infiltrati­on network involved in the acts of sabotage.”

 ??  ?? Inside a control room at the Natanz facility
Inside a control room at the Natanz facility

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