Report: Iranian nuclear site heavily damaged, was on Israel’s hit list

Israel remains mum as reports say the centrifuge manufacturing center targeted on Wednesday was heavily damaged, contrary to Iranian claims that the attack was foiled.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Iranian nuclear site near Tehran attacked Wednesday was on an Israeli ‘hit list’ given to the Trump administration in early 2020, the New York Times reported Thursday.

The report said that according to a senior intelligence official, the Iran Centrifuge Technology Company in Karaj was one of a number of targets Jerusalem had given to the Trump administration. The official said that other targets on the list included the Natanz uranium enrichment plant, which was heavily damaged, and the man who headed the country’s secret nuclear weapons program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was assassinated last November.

Although the mullahs blamed Israel for those attacks, Jerusalem never admitted responsibility and has so far remained silent over the latest incident as well.

Citing an unnamed Iranian “familiar with the attack” this week, the Times said a small drone was launched close to the facility and scored a hit, causing an unknown amount of damage.

The same day, Iran announced a new law requiring the registration of all civilian drones within six months.

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Contrary to Iranian government claims, various Hebrew media reported that the site had been significantly damaged. It has recently been standard procedure for Tehran to first shrug off attacks, either insisting they were accidents or minor incidents and only admitting days later that they had suffered a significant setback to their nuclear program.

Iran also claims that the plant is one that merely uses nuclear technology to improve “quality of soil, water, agricultural and livestock production.” However, the U.S., EU and UN had it on its list of banned sites from 2007 until the nuclear deal was signed with Iran in 2015. It went back on the American sanctions list when former president Donald Trump withdrew from the accord in 2018.

The attack on the Karaj facility occurred just five days after Iran instituted an emergency closure of its only nuclear power plant. According to Israel’s Channel 13, the Iranians initially tried to hide the shutdown but Saudi media revealed the incident.

Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization then said in a statement that the nuclear reactor in Bushehr had been “temporarily shut down due to a technical fault.” It claimed that the plant would be reconnected to the country’s electric grid and the issue “resolved in a few days.”  The state electric company said on Sunday that the repair work would take until Friday.

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Iran’s lack of explanation for the shutdown fueled speculation that this was another act of sabotage by Israel, which has repeatedly stated that it would not allow the Islamic Republic to obtain nuclear weapons. The Bushehr reactor is a decades-old civilian power producer monitored by the International Atomic Agency.