Within just five days, there have been three separate explosions in Iran, one of which was at an area where the Iranians were putting centrifuges into operation. All three incidents shared one common factor: the Iranian government’s explanation of them stretched credibility to the nth degree. 

In the first incident, on July 2, a large fire sparked in a nuclear enrichment facility at Natanz that housed the newest generation of centrifuges for the Iranian government.

The incident has security and nuclear analysts speculating whether it was a serious setback for Iran’s nuclear program and what exactly was damaged in the explosion and resultant fire. The Iranian version of events claims that it was an accident, yet, it could have been a deliberate act of sabotage.

Before (right) and after (left) pictures of the damaged facility (Belaaz).

One Middle Eastern intelligence official, who spoke anonymously to the New York Times, said that the blast was caused by an explosive device planted inside the facility and resultantly, large parts of the facility above the ground, where new centrifuges are put into operation, were destroyed. 

The Atomic Energy Agency of Iran acknowledged that an “incident” took place at the site but claimed it was an accidental explosion that occurred in one of the sheds under construction at the site. It released a photograph that showed doors ripped from their hinges as well as a collapsed roof. Large parts of the building were blackened by fire. At the time of the explosion, 60 of the newest centrifuges, which can enrich uranium, were spinning at the site.

In an article at the IRNA news, officials were quoted as saying that the “Zionist regime and the U.S.” were crossing red lines. The Americans and Israelis did conduct a dedicated cyberattack on enrichment facilities a decade ago called “Operation Olympic Games” which destroyed over 1,000 centrifuges and set back Iran’s nuclear program by at least a year.

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Many analysts believe that the evidence strongly suggests the explosion was the result of sabotage.

A group called the “Cheetahs of the Homeland” claimed responsibility for the attack. A reporter for the BBC Persian cited emails supposedly arriving “hours before any news of the incident had emerged,” according to Radio Farda. The emails however claimed that there was an attack and then a coverup; they are trying to bring attention to the coverup that they claim the Iranian government is conducting. No one knows who the “Cheetahs of the Homeland” are and up to this incident, no mention has been made about them.

Iran has changed its narrative regarding this incident, with some unnamed officials now telling Reuters that they believe Natanz was targeted with a cyber attack and cited the official release stating, “But the crossing of red lines of the Islamic Republic of Iran by hostile countries, especially the Zionist regime and the U.S., means that strategy should be revised.”

The Natanz facility consists of a fuel enrichment plant and is considered Iran’s largest gas centrifuge uranium enrichment facility. It first came online in 2007. Natanz was part of the Iran Deal of 2015. According to a report in the BBC, “the Iran deal saw Tehran agree to only produce low-enriched uranium, which has a 3-4 percent concentration of U-235 and can be used to produce fuel for nuclear power plants. Weapons-grade uranium is 90 percent enriched or more.”

“Iran also agreed to install no more than 5,060 of the oldest and least efficient centrifuges at Natanz until 2026, and not to carry out any enrichment at Fordo until 2031. The 1,044 centrifuges there were supposed to spin without uranium hexafluoride gas being injected.”

Last November the Atomic Energy Agency of Iran said that they were doubling capacity at the Natanz site. They also denied a U.N. inspector entry to the site on the grounds that she was carrying “suspicious material.”

In the second incident, as reported by Wurmser, a huge explosion occurred in or near Iran’s Parchin military base. Parchin is a known nuclear weapons program site where the Iranians have been conducting high-explosives and warhead design and testing.

The Iranians claim that the explosion, which could be seen from Tehran some 25 km away, happened in a gas farm, and not in a nuclear facility as reported by the state-run Fars news agency.

The Iranian news showed ludicrous “evidence” of an accidental explosion including the “exploded” fuel tank with a tiny hole, sans any burn marks. Such an explosion could not have been seen from 25 km away and the hillside far away from the fuel tanks was burnt far more than a fuel tank explosion could justify.

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Kuwait Al Jarida media reports claimed that Israeli F-35 bombed the Parchin facility without the need for refueling and then claimed that “an Israeli electronic cyber attack on ‘Natanz’ targeted computers controlling storage pressure devices… Tehran lost 80 percent of the UF6 gas stock necessary for uranium enrichment.”

The third explosion reportedly happened near Shiraz. The Iranian government claimed that a power plant exploded and caught fire. That caused a widespread power outage in the entire surrounding area. According to Wurmster’s article, the following sites are also located close by:

  • Rudan Nuclear Research Center, located near the town of Fasa near Shiraz in Fars Province where yellowcake is reportedly produced.
  • Fars 10 megawatt pool-type research reactor, which is scheduled to come online this year.
  • Shiraz missile plant facility.
  • The Bushehr nuclear power plant that supplies electricity to Shiraz and lies to its north.
  • The Abadeh nuclear storage site whose existence was revealed by Isreal in 2019. The site was reportedly dismantled following Israel’s revelation, and its replacement site has not been publicly announced.

Both American and Israeli officials denied involvement in these latest incidents.