“If it is proven that our country has been targeted by a cyberattack, we will respond,” Gholamreza Jalali, Iranian Civil Defense Chief
“We have a long-term policy… not to allow Iran to have nuclear abilities.” Gabi Ashkenazi, Israeli Foreign Minister
“We are planning to break America, Israel, and their partners and allies. Our ground forces should cleanse the planet from the filth of their existence,” Hossein Salami as commander-in-chief of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps
(Day 114 of the federal guidelines for social distancing)
Let’s take a step back into the world of global security. In this edition of “More than Meets the Eye,” we will look at several events that have taken place over the past couple of weeks. The results of these events have the potential of awakening the world out of its coronavirus-induced confusion and leading it back into a state of monomaniacal perturbation. You may or may not have heard about the events we will discuss today, but be sure, there is more than meets the eye concerning how they happened and the probable consequences of these events.
Over the past two weeks in Iran, there have been six separate events, referred to as “accidents” by the Iranian government. They include the damaging of the Khojir missile production facility, an explosion at a significant medical clinic in Tehran, a cyberattack at the Natanz nuclear materials enrichment plant, a large fire in Shiraz, a huge fire at a power station in Ahvaz, and an explosion, along with another fire at the Natanz nuclear materials enrichment plant.
In classic Iranian diplomatic form, their government has publicly labeled these events as “accidents.” This is to prevent any embarrassment to the Iranian government, which in their eyes would be unbearable. Currently, the Iranian power structure is under a lot of scrutiny, both nationally and internationally. Their religious intelligentsia, along with their government simply cannot handle any appearance of weakness. They will not stand for anyone perceiving that a foreign power, either state or non-state sponsored, could penetrate the Iranian security apparatus, in order to do considerable damage to state-run entities, especially against something as sensitive as its nuclear infrastructure.
Therefore, until this past weekend, the state spin has been that the events were mere accidents. This week, however, there are some leaders and analysts who are hinting that there may be more than meets the eye concerning the “accidents.”
The six events that transpired over the past two weeks may be connected. If they are not directly connected, they are at least linked by approximation. These events seem to be juxtaposed, not only in space but in timing as well.
26 June- The first in a series of explosions in Iran happened at a military facility, known as Khojir where missiles and ammunition were being manufactured. The Iranian authorities first said that the Parchin military base was the location of the explosion, but later changed their statement, saying it was somewhere near a missile complex at Khojir, about 30 kilometers away from the Parchin base. They changed their tune when several intelligence agencies showed them satellite imagery of where it actually took place, quite a distance away. The Khojir missile complex, part of the wider Parchin military zone, is understood to contain a research, development, and manufacturing facility. Parchin was visited by nuclear inspectors in 2015 after renovations to the facility prompted international suspicion of nuclear activity.
The Defense Ministry said the explosion in Khojir, about 20 miles southeast of Tehran, was caused by a “gas storage facility” leak. But open-source satellite images showed a burnt patch of land that “was not located within the military base, as Iran had claimed, but near to it, at a missile production facility in Khojir”, according to Sky News. The Khojir complex is understood to contain a research, development, and manufacturing facility that was visited by nuclear inspectors in 2015 after renovations prompted international suspicion of nuclear activity.
At almost the same time as the Khojir explosion, a major power outage was reported 600 miles south, in the city of Shiraz. The city is home to a major airbase and the Iranian military’s 55th airborne brigade, according to military specialist site, Global Security.
Reporting on the Khojir incident, Kuwait’s al Jarida newspaper quoted a “senior security source” who claimed that the explosion was the result of an attack by an Israeli F-35 stealth fighter jet. This to date is merely a supposition as reported by al Jarida.
30 June- An explosion at the Sina Athar clinic in central Tehran killed 19 people. Iranian officials again blamed a gas leak. It was reported that the blast occurred after gas canisters in the clinic’s basement caught fire. At the time, there were 25 employees inside the clinic, which primarily conducts light surgeries and medical imaging.
Four days previously, a similar gas explosion occurred near a sensitive military complex in the capital. That explosion was caused by “leaking gas tanks,” Iran’s Defense Ministry confirmed on Friday. There were no casualties.
The Natanz nuclear enrichment facility explosion occurred, around 2 am. The authorities confirmed later in the day that there had been an incident, but did not say who or what was responsible. A Middle Eastern intelligence official told The New York Times that the blast had been caused by an explosive device planted inside the facility.
The unnamed source reportedly claimed that the explosion “destroyed much of the above-ground parts of the facility where new centrifuges – delicate devices that spin at supersonic speeds – are balanced before they are put into operation”. Natanz nuclear facility, located some 30 km NNW from the town near a major highway, is generally recognized as Iran’s central facility for uranium enrichment with over 19,000 gas centrifuges currently operational and nearly half of them being fed with uranium hexafluoride.
Natanz is a famous nuclear facility. If you remember, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization confirmed an incident which had taken place at the Natanz nuclear site wherein 2010, a highly-sophisticated multi-nation cyberattack was orchestrated by the US and Israel, now known as Stuxnet. Stuxnet reportedly ruined almost one-fifth of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges at Natanz. Targeting industrial control systems, the worm infected over 200,000 computers and caused 1,000 machines to physically degrade. STUXNET may have been one of the most destructive cyberattacks to date in the annals of cyberwarfare.
The following day, a large fire hit Shiraz, the same city hit by the power outage on 26 June. A large fire broke out in the Iranian city of Shiraz, according to videos circulating on social media, amid a series of mysterious fires and explosions in the Islamic Republic. The fire reportedly occurred in a garden in Shiraz, according to reports citing local sources. The cause of the fire is not yet known.
Another fire was reported, a power station in Ahvaz, in southern Iran. A power station transformer was knocked out, with firefighters telling local television that a generator for unknown reasons had exploded. A power plant caught fire following an explosion, the official IRNA news agency reported. The explosion occurred at a power plant in Ahwaz’s al-Zirqan district. “The extent of the fire is still unknown,” Ghanbari said.
The world is preoccupied with the coronavirus, and in the USA, the push for social justice and racial equality is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. We must pay close attention to the contemporary historical events happening around us, but, if we take our eyes off the potential threats that surround us globally, we will find ourselves wandering from one global crisis to another.
The series of events that have been unfolding across Iran over the past couple of weeks is significant. In the past few years, we have seen that the US and its allies are playing a tit-for-tat game with the Iranians and their allies.
We have primarily seen a series of responses, allegedly, by the Iranians through covert actions for which they could deny any responsibility. We have seen it over and over again, even to the point of attacking Saudi Arabian petroleum facilities with missiles, and then denying it.
We should not find it surprising when Iran suddenly gets hit with a series of catastrophic events, all of them relatively unexplainable. We should not be caught off guard when the Iranian government initially denies everything. We should expect that the targets were somewhat significant in nature. This situation has all the characterizations of a war of denial. Governments do as they please and deny everything. It will be interesting to see how the Iranians respond to these budding allegations that the US and Israel were somehow involved in each of these events.
Intriguingly, the Israeli foreign minister used a weekend conference to fuel speculation. When asked about the incident in Natanz, Gabi Ashkenazi said: “We have a long-term policy… not to allow Iran to have nuclear abilities. This regime with those abilities is an existential threat to Israel… we take actions that are better left unsaid,” the foreign minister said. It follows a pattern by Israel of neither confirming nor denying involvement in attacks that take place frequently against Iranian targets in Syria and Iran. “I can neither deny nor confirm such information.” It is a common phrase used within the entire Intelligence community.
- We must take the time to evaluate the kinds of information sources to which we turn on a regular basis. It is easy to depend on one particular line of thought. Getting out of our comfort zones, reading from sources which we are sure will shed a different point of view is probably good for each of us. Explore broader viewpoints. As a result, we will find that we are not right about everything and that the counter-points to ours are not all wrong either. Our desire must be to remain teachable, evaluate our blind-spots, and search for truth as if it were a purified gold.
- Learn how to learn, and how to read. Most of us are stuck in our single focus of opinion because we are not continuing to learn how to analyze and evaluate what is truth and what is not. Discover the meanings of words. We must not simply assume that we understand what the writers are saying. Make sure you grasp the meanings and use of their words.
- Learn something about the writers you are reading. Check more than one of their writings to see if they are consistent. You can find out more about who I am and my presuppositions here: https://www.morethanmeets.co/david-weston/ You can discover much about what I believe, and what I support by reading the past 151 editions of “More than Meets the Eye” as well.
Surveillance Capitalism Vs. The Surveillance State… https://www.noemamag.com/surveillance-capitalism-vs-the-surveillance-state/
Fatah Threatens Terrorist Uprising, Seeking Unity with Hamas… https://www.investigativeproject.org/8464/fatah-threatens-terrorist-uprising-seeking-unity
For your comments or questions about any of our digests please feel free to write to me at: [email protected]