Iran’s intelligence agency claimed to have arrested an Israeli spy network attempting to lay explosives at sensitive locations in Isfahan province, where the Natanz nuclear facility is located, state-run media reported Sunday.
Operatives working for Mossad, Israel’s top foreign intelligence service, reportedly entered Iran from Kurdistan months ago after months of training and simulation in Africa, Iranian state-affiliated Nour News reported. The Ministry of Intelligence of the Islamic Republic of Iran allegedly arrested the operatives hours before detonation of explosive material.
“This network’s members were in contact with Mossad spy agency through a neighboring country and entered Iran from (Iraq’s) Kurdistan region with advanced equipment and strong explosives,” the Ministry of Intelligence said in a statement, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.
Iran accused the operatives of intending to commit “sabotage and unprecedented terrorist activities in some sensitive locations and pre-determined targets,” IRNA reported. “But they were all arrested and their equipment were confiscated.”
Nour News claimed the Ministry of Intelligence’s operation to thwart the alleged attack represented “the most complex operations of Iran’s intelligence apparatus inside and outside the country.”
— Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran (@Iran_GOV) July 23, 2022
The arrests follow a series of public intelligence failures as Israel ramped up a covert campaign on Iranian soil. Iran arrested a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) general in June on allegations of spying for Israel, accordingto The New York Times.
“The security breaches inside Iran and the vast scope of operations by Israel have really undermined our most powerful intelligence organization,” Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a former vice president of Iran, told the NYT. “The strength of our security has always been the bedrock of the Islamic Republic and it has been damaged in the past year.”
In May, a drone strike damaged parts of the military-technological complex in Parchin, near Iran’s capital, but Israel did not claim responsibility for the attack, the NYT reported. Days before, Israeli operatives fatally shot an IRGC colonel in Tehran.
The Natanz nuclear site has been a consistent target of Western attacks, typically in the cyber domain.
A 2021 explosion at the Natanz facility that destroyed the machines used to refine uranium ignited suspicions of U.S. or Israeli culpability, the BBC reported. Iranian state media later reported the explosion was part of a planned “rapid reaction test,” according to Al Jazeera.
In 2009, Israel and the U.S. teamed up to launch a massive cyberattack against Natanz in part of a larger operation of asymmetrical warfare against Iranian nuclear facilities. Known as STUXNET, the attack compromised control systems at Natanz and caused physical damage to the facility’s centrifuges, according to the New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell.
The Mossad and the Ministry of Intelligence of the Islamic Republic of Iran did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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