Shut up about Iran, says Israeli cabinet minister frustrated with leaks

An unnamed senior minister in Israel’s government says it’s not known yet who leaked information blaming Israel for attacks on Iranian targets.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

A senior cabinet minister involved in Israel’s security activities slammed leaks to the press that claimed Israel was behind recent attacks on Iranian targets, saying they damaged Israel’s security.

“The leaks about the actions attributed to Israel in Iran are wrong and harm Israeli interests,” the unnamed minister told the Israel Hayom newspaper.

The minister, a member of the Security Cabinet, said he did not know whether the leaks were Israeli or foreign in origin, but stressed that “in these situations the right policy is ambiguity. It was like that in the past and it should be today. The leaks are harmful.”

On Sunday the New York Times quoted unnamed Israeli and American intelligence officials who said an explosion over the weekend at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility had “completely destroyed the independent — and heavily protected — internal power system that supplies the underground centrifuges that enrich uranium…. the explosion had dealt a severe blow to Iran’s ability to enrich uranium and that it could take at least nine months to restore Natanz’s production.”

The officials told the Times that the Natanz incident was “a classified Israeli operation.”  The same nuclear facility suffered an explosion last year in one of a series of mishaps at Iranian military sites that were blamed on Israel.

Earlier Monday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif blamed Israel for the Natanz explosion.

“The Zionists want to take revenge because of our progress on the way to lifting sanctions… they have publicly said that they will not allow this. But we will take our revenge from the Zionists,” Zarif said on Iranian television.

A spokesman for the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency, Bahruz al-Malibandi, said Sunday that “a malfunction had affected the power supply to the Natanz nuclear facility” and that there were no casualties or radiation leak as a result of the incident, Israel Hayom reported.

The “malfunction” occurred just one day after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani boasted that Tehran had improved its nuclear capabilities, and that it intended to increase heavy water production – a further violation of the Iranian nuclear deal.

The Natanz incident occurred as Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin arrived in Israel Sunday and held talks with Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

“During our conversation I emphasized to Secretary Austin that Israel views the United States as a full partner on all operational threats, not the least [of which] is Iran,” Gantz said. “The Tehran of today poses a strategic threat to international security, to the entire Middle East and to the State of Israel.”

“We will work closely with our American allies to ensure that any new [nuclear] agreement with Iran will secure the vital interests of the world, of the United States, prevent a dangerous arms race in our region and protect the State of Israel,” Gantz said.