A New York Times report on Sunday said the drone strike on the Iranian city of Isfahan’s defenses was carried out to protect Israel’s own security interests and not to prevent arms exports to Russia. rice field.
Saturday’s strike was carried out by Mossad intelligence services, the newspaper said, citing a senior US intelligence official.
The report noted that Isfahan is the center of Tehran’s missile industry and is where the Shahab medium-range missile, which has a range capable of hitting Israel, is assembled.
Iran has yet to deliver missiles to Russia despite reports it plans to do so since October, while Tehran has the Shahed-136 for use by the Kremlin in its nearly year-long invasion of Ukraine. We supply self-destruct drones.
“Kamikaze” drones have been deployed since September to attack civilian sites and critical infrastructure facilities in Ukraine. Some reports said the Israeli attack targeted Iran’s drone program.
A statement from the Iranian Defense Ministry said three drones were launched at the facility on Saturday, two of which were successfully shot down. “, but no one was injured.
Iran International, an opposition Iranian news agency based in London, said witnesses said they had seen three or four explosions.
The state-run IRNA news agency later described the drone as a “quadcopter armed with bombs”. A quadcopter, so named because it has four rotors, is usually operated from a short distance by remote control. Iranian state television later aired footage of debris from a drone resembling a commercial quadcopter.
Drones have been used in previous attacks inside Iran, including the June 2021 attack on a centrifuge manufacturing center in Karaj and the February 2022 attack on military drone storage and manufacturing facilities in Kermanshah. rice field. mass media.
A US official said on Sunday that Washington was not behind the strike.
It is believed to be the first Israeli attack inside Iran since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took office, and marks a continuation of the previous government’s policies that escalated the attack on Jerusalem inside the Islamic Republic. there is a possibility.
Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in an upcoming YouTube video shared by The New York Times that Tehran will “make a price tag” after trying to kill Israelis in 2022 “in Cyprus, Turkey” and inside Iran. He said he had decided to increase the activities of
After the conspiracy, Bennett said the Revolutionary Guard commander behind the attempted attack had been “eliminated.”
Bennett said he had rejected US President Joe Biden’s request for Jerusalem to notify Washington before any such attacks took place.
“There are things I didn’t want to know beforehand,” Bennett recalled telling Biden.
The Wall Street Journal report blamed Israel for the attack on Isfahan, but the timing of the attack is the same as talks between Jerusalem and Washington aimed at finding new ways to counter Tehran’s nuclear program. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is due to arrive in Israel on Monday.
Iran has denounced the attack as “cowardice” and accused Iran’s enemies of trying to sow unrest in the Islamic Republic.
“This despicable act was carried out as part of efforts by Iran’s enemies to destabilize the Islamic Republic in recent months,” Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdullahian said at a press conference on Sunday. .
The US recently hinted at a more aggressive approach to Tehran, including plans to supply drones to Russia.
The Biden administration has also suggested that it has abandoned the possibility of reviving the deal with Iran on its nuclear program, known as the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan, which then-President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018. With sanctions regimes targeting various sectors of Iran, Tehran has responded by expanding its nuclear program in violation of his JCPOA.
Iran’s cooperation with Russia in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a violent crackdown on the anti-establishment protests that have swept Iran since mid-September have also contributed to Washington’s more aggressive approach.
Last week, Israel and the United States launched large-scale joint exercises in Israel and the eastern Mediterranean. The exercise was reportedly intended to show adversaries such as Iran that Washington was less distracted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and threats from China. Mobilize a large army.
Netanyahu, who ordered numerous strikes on Iranian targets in Syria and operations on Iranian soil during his final term as prime minister, has spoken out about his intentions to oppose Tehran’s nuclear ambitions at all costs. It was open.
In November, a longtime ally of Netanyahu said in an interview that he believed the prime minister would order attacks on Iran’s nuclear sites if the United States did not secure a new nuclear deal with Tehran and took action in the near future. said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.