A recent blast that ripped through an Iranian military base has increased suspicions that the United States and its allies are engaged in a covert effort to derail the Islamic Republic’s nuclear weapons program.
The explosion and other anti-Iranian actions, coupled with what are seen as retaliatory moves by Iran, have raised the question: Has the war with Iran already begun?
The explosion at a Revolutionary Guard Corps base 30 miles west of Tehran on Nov. 12 leveled buildings and killed 17 people, including a founder of Iran’s ballistic missile program, Gen. Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam.
Iranian officials called the explosion an accident.
“However, many former U.S. intelligence officials and Iran experts believe that the explosion — the most destructive of at least two dozen unexplained blasts in the last two years – was part of a covert effort by the U.S., Israel and others to disable Iran’s nuclear and missile programs,” the Los Angeles Times reported on Sunday.
Patrick Clawson, who directs the Iran Security Initiative at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told the Times: “It does appear that there is a campaign of assassinations and cyber war, as well as the semi-acknowledged campaign of sabotage.”
American and Israeli engineers are suspected of feeding the Stuxnet computer worm into Iran’s nuclear program in 2010. The virus caused centrifuges used to enrich uranium to shatter.
Two senior nuclear physicists were killed and a third wounded by bombs attached to cars or motorcycles in January and November of last year.
In September, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, accused the U.S., Israel and the U.K. of conducting attacks on him and other scientists. Abbasi-Davani was reportedly wounded in a 2010 car bomb blast, National Journal reported.
There have also been reports of unexplained explosions in Iranian gas pipelines, oil installations, and military facilities. Three such explosions occurred in October in a 24-hour period, and a large blast was reported last week in Iran’s third-largest city, Isfahan.
Asked by National Journal if the United States and Israel were in fact engaged in a covert war against Iran, a recently retired U.S. official with inside knowledge of up-to-date intelligence would not deny it.
And a senior Obama administration official who was asked that question would also not deny that such a program is underway.
Faced with these anti-Iranian threats, Iran has taken steps against Western interests thought to be retaliatory.
Iranian protesters last week stormed the British embassy in Tehran. Then on Sunday, an explosion occurred inside a minibus parked near the British embassy in Bahrain.
American officials charged in October that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards were behind a plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington in a restaurant.
And on Sunday, Iran claimed to have shot down an unmanned U.S. spy drone near its border with Afghanistan.
Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council in Washington, said hostilities between Iran and the U.S. and its allies “add up to a very worrisome picture.”
National Journal reported: “If Iranian retaliations grow serious enough, [Parsi] said, they could provide ‘the pretext for a much larger war’ in which the Israelis, and possibly the Americans, launch a full attack on Iran.”
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