A small quadcopter drone was responsible for an attack on Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency facility near the city of Karaj, on the outskirts of Tehran, according to Iranian media. The facility, Iran Centrifuge Technology Company (TESA), was on a list of targets that was presented by Israel to the Trump administration in 2020.
Iran announced on Wednesday that the attack on one of its facilities had been foiled with no casualties or damage to the site (Report: Sabotage Attempt at Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Building Thwarted). US Intelligence sources later revealed that that the targeted building was one of Iran’s main manufacturing centers of centrifuges for the two nuclear facilities in Fordow and Natanz.
According to reports, the drone took off from a location near the target and hit the large building.
A senior intelligence official told the NY Times that Israel submitted the facility as part of a list of recommended targets inside Iran in early 2020 to President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and CIA Director Gina Haspel.
Other targets on Israel’s list included Natanz and Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi, a senior official in the nuclear program of Iran. Fakhrizadeh was assassinated in November 2020, and the Natanz plant was attacked in April 2021. It produced Iran’s more advanced centrifuges, capable of enriching more uranium in a shorter time.
Iran’s manufacturing and operating of the more advanced centrifuges are the key points of negotiation in Vienna about the renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency issued a statement on Wednesday, saying, “Given the precautions taken to protect sites belonging to the atomic nuclear agency, this morning’s attack was foiled before it could damage the building.”
Iran passed a new law on Wednesday requiring all civilian drones, no matter how small, to be registered and licensed.
Also, all barn doors must be replaced after all the horses have fled…
The NY Times noted similarities between Wednesday’s drone attack and an attack on a Hezbollah facility in Beirut in August 2019, which destroyed a precision-missile production facility. In both cases, miniature armed drones took off from a site on Beirut beach and collided with the facility. Hezbollah officials said at the time that the drone operators were picked up by a submarine.
The attack in Karaj took place just as the nuclear deal with Iran is about to be revived and the Western signatories are hoping to extend it to cover other areas, such as Iran’s long-range missiles program and its deployment of terrorist proxies around the region.
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi is currently in talks in Washington, where he and Pentagon officials are discussing the nuclear agreement and Israel’s objections to it. In April, Kochavi and other senior officials, including the heads of Mossad and the National Security Agency, held talks in Washington. But according to Haaretz, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu banned them from talking to their American counterparts about the new nuclear deal, because the Biden administration was determined to join the talks in Vienna and bring them to a positive conclusion.