The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Israel was behind an overnight drone strike that targeted a munitions factory in the Iranian city of Isfahan.
The report, which quoted “US officials and people familiar with the operation,” said three quadcopters targeted a defense compound located next to a site belonging to the Iran Space Research Center.
וול סטריט ג'ורנל מפי בכירים אמריקנים: ישראל עומדת מאחורי התקיפה באיראן הלילה https://t.co/Xue6aGDFCG
— roi kais • روعي كايس • רועי קייס (@kaisos1987) January 29, 2023
However, the Saudi Al-Hadth channel reported separately, quoting US sources, that the attack was an operation by the United States and another country “other than Israel” and that it was aimed at an Iranian ballistic missile warehouse, according to Israel’s Channel 11 KAN News public broadcaster.
The Iran Space Research Center is under sanctions by the United States due to its ballistic missiles program.
The Saudi channel quoted American sources as saying the attack was a “message to Russia and Iran.”
בכיר אמריקני לכאן חדשות: "ראינו את הדיווחים בעיתונות על הטענות לתקיפה אמריקנית, אבל אנחנו יכולים לאשר שאף כוח של צבא ארה"ב לא ביצע תקיפות או פעולות בתוך איראן. אנחנו ממשיכים לעקוב אחר המצב, אבל אין לנו מה לומר בעניין" https://t.co/s0hfHHpn9c
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) January 29, 2023
The United States has denied the report, according to Amichai Stein, diplomatic correspondent at KAN News.
“We have seen the reports in the media about the claims of an American attack, but we can confirm that no force of the US military carried out attacks or operations inside Iran,” the source told KAN News. “We continue to monitor the situation, but we have nothing to say about it.”
Tehran’s Foreign Ministry claimed the attack was thwarted by Iranian aerial defenses.
“Such actions cannot impact the determination and intent of our experts for peaceful nuclear progress,” Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said, according to the PadDolat government news service.
Amirabdollahian added in remarks Sunday at a joint news conference in Tehran with his Qatari counterpart that “such cowardly measures cannot impede Iranian experts’ activities and progress,” the Tasnim News Agency reported.
Israel has declined to comment.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan was in Israel for talks with government officials earlier this month, and CIA Director William Burns also arrived for an unannounced visit last week.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who arrived in Cairo on Sunday, is expected to land in Israel on Monday on the second leg of his regional tour.
Last week’s US CENTCOM-Israeli “Juniper Oak 23.2” four-day military drill was the largest joint exercise ever carried out by the two allies. During the exercise, more than 140 aircraft took to the skies and 6,400 US and 1,100 Israeli military personnel fired 180,000 pounds of live ammunition in what was clearly intended as a message to Iran and its proxies in the region.
As part of the exercise, aerial US Air Force refueling tankers were used to provide Israeli aircraft with an extended range that could be used to carry out strikes in Iran.
The Biden Administration agreed last year to allow Israel to purchase four KC-46A refueling tankers that could be used for such an attack.