Israel launches drone strikes against Iranian defenses as the United States and Israel seek new ways to contain Tehran’s nuclear and military ambitions, according to U.S. officials and people familiar with the operation. bottom.
Iranian officials say Iran’s air defense system launched an attack attempt with three small quadcopters targeting a military factory in the city of Isfahan, right next to a site belonging to the Iranian Space Research Center, which has been sanctioned by the United States. said to have dodged Working on Iran’s ballistic missile program.
Iran said its air defense system shot down one of the drones and two others exploded above the warehouse and caused minor roof damage.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdullahian called the blast a cowardly attack.
“Such actions cannot influence the determination and intentions of the experts for peaceful nuclear progress,” he said.
The Israeli military declined to comment.
The strike was the first carried out by Israel under a new far-right coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who sanctioned a series of daring operations within Iran when he last served in that role from 2009 to 2021. shows known attacks on
Israel’s latest strike comes as Israeli and US officials discuss new ways to combat Iran’s destabilization campaign, including deepening military cooperation with Russia.
Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns made an unannounced visit to Israel last week to discuss Iran and other regional issues, said a person familiar with his visit. Secretary of State Antony Brinken is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Monday to continue US-Israeli talks on Iran and other regional issues.
Last week, the United States and Israel conducted the largest-ever joint military exercise involving more than 7,500 personnel from both countries, conducting a series of scenarios to test their ability to take out air defense systems and refuel jets. A key component of a large-scale military attack on Iran.
Israel’s top commander told The Wall Street Journal last week that Israel and the United States are preparing for the worst.
General Herzi Halevi, chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, said the military exercises “sent a very clear message to Iran: if Iran makes a mistake, an offensive capability is prepared.”
President Biden’s efforts to revive a nuclear containment deal with Iran have stalled, and the US has yet to develop an alternative. I urged you to take it.
At the same time, the US is urging Israel to do more to aid Ukraine in its war with Russia, especially since Tehran is providing Moscow with hundreds of drones that will be used to attack Ukraine. I’ve been under pressure. Israel has rejected pressure for direct military aid to Ukraine, which Russian politicians have warned would jeopardize Israeli relations with Moscow.
Russia and Israel have a longstanding agreement that has allowed Israeli fighter jets to repeatedly strike Iranian targets inside Syria, and Moscow provides air defenses to President Bashar al-Assad. Israel is concerned that its overt support for Ukraine could jeopardize its ability to strike Iranian targets in Syria.
Netanyahu’s new government is not expected to provide direct military support to Ukraine. However, it is expected to continue its covert attacks on Iran’s nuclear and military programs.
Attacks like the weekend would help undermine Iran’s ability to support Russia in its war in Ukraine.
“This is a smart trifecta for Israel to hurt Iran, help Ukraine, not jeopardize its strategic interests in Syria, or risk diverting classified military technology to Russia or Iran,” Mark said. Dubowitz said the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based think tank critical of Iran.
“Explosive night in Iran,” tweeted Mikhail Podlyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, following the explosion in Iran. “[Ukraine] warned you.
During Netanyahu’s last tenure, he oversaw a series of Israeli attacks on Iran, including small drones like the one used over the weekend, according to former Israeli and US officials. His successor, Naftali Bennett, adopted a strategy he called the “Octopus Doctrine,” in which Israel was forced not only against Tehran’s agents in the Middle East like Hezbollah, but also as head of the so-called octopus. also attacked Iran itself. .
In 2021, Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency announced that it had foiled an attack by two quadcopter drones on one of its facilities. Last May, a quadcopter was used to target a military facility used to develop drones, missiles and nuclear technology outside Tehran.
The main target of Saturday’s strike was a warehouse behind a shopping mall in Isfahan, which Iran said was an ammunition depot. A video of the explosion posted on his social media by a witness captured a small explosion above a building that appeared to have caused minimal damage.
Satellite images released Sunday appeared to show minor damage to the building.
Ronen Solomon, an independent intelligence analyst and author of the Intelli Times blog, said the small size of the explosion indicated that the target was not an ammunition depot. Instead, it could have been a laboratory or military logistics site, he said.
A prominent Iranian official suggested that Israel and its Western allies were behind the attack.
“Both of them need to learn that punishment also comes with failure,” said Mohammad Malandi, who has served as spokesman for Iran’s nuclear negotiating team, close to the government.
Satellite images show the warehouse is across from a site belonging to a unit of the Iranian Space Research Center, a US-sanctioned organization that has worked with the Shaheed Hemat Industrial Group, which is responsible for Iran’s ballistic missiles, Solomon said. was done. program, and the Ministry of Defense of Iran.
The Wall Street Journal was able to confirm Mr. Solomon’s information. Social media channels close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps separately displayed satellite imagery of the targeted sites. This matches the exact area where the Space Research Center’s Isfahan unit is located.
In September 2021, a missile factory owned by Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group on its site west of Tehran was reportedly targeted in an Israeli attack.
— Dov Lieber from Tel Aviv and Aresu Eqbali from Tehran contributed to this article.
Write to Dion Nissenbaum at Dion.Nissenbaum@wsj.com, Benoit Faucon at firstname.lastname@example.org and Gordon Lubold at email@example.com.
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