Israeli intelligence agency Mossad masterminded the destruction of a major Iranian nuclear facility and recruited a team of local scientists, the Jewish Chronicle has reported.
“Up to 10 scientists were approached by Israeli agents and agreed to destroy the underground A1000 centrifuge hall at Natanz in April,” the newspaper claimed on Thursday, adding that the Iranians thought they were working for “international dissident groups.”
The alleged Mossad operation involved smuggling some explosives into the nuclear compound in food boxes and dropping others in by drone, with scientists collecting them.
Iran issues nuclear deal demands
The destruction of the plant on April 11, according to the Jewish Chronicle, “caused chaos in the highest echelons of the Iranian leadership,” delayed “progress towards a bomb” and disabled the complex for up to nine months.
The outlet claims this was one of three “connected Mossad operations that took place over an 11-month period of sabotage in Iran.”
The first took place in July 2020 and targeted the Natanz complex and the third in June 2021 involved “a quadcopter assault on the Iran Centrifuge Technology Company.”
“The three operations were planned together over an 18-month period by a team of 1,000 technicians, analysts and spies, as well as scores of agents on the ground,” reads the article.
The report comes a day after the Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in his conversation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for “immediate cessation of negotiations” with Iran on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal. He claimed Tehran was using “nuclear blackmail” as a negotiation tactic. Iran has consistently denied having nuclear weapons ambitions, insisting its uranium enrichment serves purely civil purposes.
Iran earlier blamed Israel for the Natanz plant explosion and named Reza Karimi as a suspect, saying he had fled the country ‘hours before’ the incident. There has been no comment from Iranian authorities on the Jewish Chronicle’s report.
After former US president Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement and reimposed crippling sanctions, Iran began to enrich uranium beyond the limits agreed in the deal, raising concern in the West. The country says it will not agree to revive the agreement unless all the sanctions against it are lifted.