Reports Tie Mossad, MeK to Deadly Iran Military Blast
November 15, 2011 Jason Ditz / Anti-War.com & Phoebe Greenwood / The Guardian & Agence France-Presse & Karl Vick / TIME Magazine
Israeli media reports claim the Mossad (Israel's secret service) was behind 'huge blast' at Bid Ganeh military base that killed Revolutionary Guard Commander Major General Hassan Moghaddam, a leading Iranian missile researcher. If the attack was indeed a covert Israeli attack, that might explain why Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was cheering the death toll. Israel's Mossad has been linked to the assassinations of three Iranian nuclear scientists -- two last year and one in July.
Reports Tie Mossad, MeK to Deadly Iran Military Blast Jason Ditz / Anti-War.com
(November 14, 2011) -- Saturday's deadly blast at an Iranian military base was termed an "accident" by Iranian officials, with the Revolutionary Guard attributing it to an ammunition stock catching fire during transport. But a growing number of reports are coming out, particularly in the Israeli press, which are calling the blast a collaborative effort between Mossad and the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MeK), an Iranian terrorist group which has received considerable support in recent months from Western officials hoping to use them in a war against Iran.
An anonymous source among several quoted on Mossad's involvement went on to say that the attacks were an effort to "impede the Iranian ability to develop and deliver a nuclear weapon," while predicting more attacks. It should be noted that the base involved has never even alleged to have any nuclear weapons aspect.
If the attack was indeed a covert Israeli attack, it might explain why Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was cheering the death toll yesterday. On the other hand, publicly lauding "accidents" seems a funny way to avoid suspicion.
Massive Explosion At Iranian Military Depot! MoxNews.com
TEL AVIV (November 14, 2011) -- A series of news reports linking Israel's intelligence agency the Mossad to a blast at a military facility in Iran, in which 17 people were killed and a further 15 wounded, has gained widespread coverage in the Israeli media on Monday.
While Iranian officials insist the explosion at the Bid Ganeh base was accidental, caused by the movement of ammunition, claims from anonymous western and Israeli officials that Saturday's blast was a covert Israeli operation have gained momentum.
Leading Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot picked up a post by US blogger Richard Silverstein claiming the Mossad had teamed up with Iranian militant group Mujahideen e-Khalq (MEK) to execute the alleged attack. MEK denies involvement in the attack.
Leftwing broadsheet Ha'aretz also led with reports that a western intelligence source quoted in Time magazine had claimed the Mossad carried out the attack in an attempt to stall Iran's development of a nuclear weapon. The official is said to have warned: "There are more bullets in the magazine."
The blast at the base, which is reported to have been a storage facility for long-range missiles, was so powerful that it was said to have been felt 30 miles away in the capital, Tehran.
Among those killed was Major General Hassan Moghaddam, the Revolutionary Guard Commander charged with "ensuring self-sufficiency" in armaments, and described by Iranian media as a pioneer in Iranian missile development.
Israel's defence minister, Ehud Barak, responded to news of Moghaddam's death by saying: "May there be more like it."
Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office refused to comment on growing speculation of the Mossad's involvement. Ilan Mizrahi, former head of the national security council and former deputy head of the Mossad, also would not be drawn into substantiating the claims: "I have no idea whether this blast was accidental or whether it was sabotage. But I will say God bless those who were behind it, because the free world should be doing its best to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear military capability."
A recent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report, based on the intelligence of 10 governments, presented images, letters and diagrams that suggested Iran was secretly working on nuclear weaponry.
Both the US and France have offered close co-operation with Israel, threatening increased sanctions unless Iran responds with transparency to the nuclear watchdog report. Earlier this month, the Knesset debated the bombing of Iran to prevent further nuclear development, with Netanyahu and Barak said to supporting military strikes.
"There is nothing in this latest IAEA report that Israel hasn't known for a long time. Their arsenal of long-range missiles is also too often overlooked. I believe a military strike is an option that should be put clearly on the table," Mizrahi said. "Something should be done to stop Iran. I think in the end [Israel] will stand alone."
Iran's envoy to the IAEA says any nuclear development is for peaceful means and that the material evidence against has been fabricated by the US.
Israel has been linked to several previous incidents in Iran similar to Saturday's explosion, including an explosion at a Shahab facility in southwestern Iran in 2010 and a bomb attack earlier that year in Tehran, in which Iranian physicist Masoud Ali Mohammadi was killed.
(c) 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. Israel Hails Deadly Blast in Iran Agence France-Presse
JERUSALEM (November 13, 2011) -- Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday hailed the deadly munitions blast at a base of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards and hoped for more such incidents. "I don't know the extent of the explosion," he told military radio, asked about the incident. "But it would be desirable if they multiply."
Iran said earlier that a senior general who pioneered an artillery and missile unit was among the 17 Guards reported killed in Saturday's blast at Bid Ganeh, near the town of Malard on the western outskirts of Tehran. Guards spokesman commander Ramezan Sharif said the blast, which Iran said was an accident, occurred as "ammunition was taken out of the depot and was being moved outside toward the appropriate site."
Set up after the 1979 Islamic revolution to defend Iran, the Guards are in charge of the Islamic republic's missile programme, including Shahab-3 missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) capable of hitting Israel.
Saturday's blast came amid international condemnation of Iran since the release of a new UN nuclear watchdog report accusing Tehran of working towards the development of nuclear warheads to fit inside its medium-range missiles. Israeli officials have in past weeks warned Iran of the possibility of military strikes against its nuclear sites.
Copyright 2011 AFP. All rights reserved Was Israel Behind a Deadly Explosion at an Iranian Missile Base? Karl Vick / TIME Magazine
JERUSALEM (November 13, 2011) -- Israeli newspapers on Sunday were thick with innuendo, the front pages of the three largest dailies dominated by variations on the headline "Mysterious Explosion in Iranian Missile Base." Turn the page, and the mystery is answered with a wink. "Who Is Responsible for Attacks on the Iranian Army?" asks Maariv, and the paper lists without further comment a half-dozen other violent setbacks to Iran's nuclear and military nexus.
For Israeli readers, the coy implication is that their own government was behind Saturday's massive blast just outside Tehran. It is an assumption a Western intelligence source insists is correct: the Mossad -- the Israeli agency charged with covert operations -- did it. "Don't believe the Iranians that it was an accident," the official tells TIME, adding that other sabotage is being planned to impede the Iranian ability to develop and deliver a nuclear weapon. "There are more bullets in the magazine," the official says.
The powerful blast or series of blasts -- reports described an initial explosion followed by a much larger one -- devastated a missile base in the gritty urban sprawl to the west of the Iranian capital. The base housed Shahab missiles, which, at their longest range, can reach Israel.
Last week's report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran had experimented with removing the conventional warhead on the Shahab-3 and replacing it with one that would hold a nuclear device. Iran says the explosion was an accident that came while troops were transferring ammunition out of the depot "toward the appropriate site."
The explosion killed at least 17 people, including Major General Hassan Moqqadam, described by Iranian state media as a pioneer in Iranian missile development and the Revolutionary Guard commander in charge of "ensuring self-sufficiency" in armaments, a challenging task in light of international sanctions.
Coming the weekend after the release of the unusually critical IAEA report, which laid out page upon page of evidence that Iran is moving toward a nuclear weapon, the blast naturally sharpened concern over Israel's threat to launch airstrikes on Iran's nuclear facilities. Half the stories on the Tehran Times website on Sunday referenced the possibility of a military strike, most warning of dire repercussions.
But the incident also argued, maybe even augured, against an outright strike. If Israel -- perhaps in concert with Washington and other allies -- can continue to inflict damage to the Iranian nuclear effort through covert actions, the need diminishes for overt, incendiary moves like air strikes. The Stuxnet computer worm bollixed Iran's centrifuges for months, wreaking havoc on the crucial process of uranium enrichment.
And in Sunday's editions, the Hebrew press coyly listed what Yedioth Ahronoth called "Iran's Mysterious Mishaps." The tallies ran from the November 2007 explosion at a missile base south of Tehran to the October 2010 blast at a Shahab facility in southwestern Iran, to the assassinations of three Iranian scientists working in the nuclear program -- two last year and one in July.
At the very least, the list burnishes the mystique of the Mossad, Israel's overseas spy agency. Whatever the case-by-case reality, the popular notion that, through the Mossad, Israel knows everything and can reach anywhere is one of the most valuable assets available to a state whose entire doctrine of defense can be summed up in the word deterrence. But it doesn't mean Israel is the only country with a foreign intelligence operation inside Iran.
The most recent IAEA report included intelligence from 10 governments on details of the Iranian nuclear effort. And in previous interviews, Western security sources have indicated that U.S. and other Western intelligence agencies have partnered with Israel on covert operations inside Iran.
Sometimes the partner brings specific expertise or access. In other cases, Iranian agents on the ground who might harbor misgivings about Israel are allowed to believe they are working only with another government altogether.
Saturday's blast was so powerful it was felt 25 miles away in Tehran, and so loud that one nearby resident with combat experience thought he had just heard the detonation of an aerial bomb.
"Frankly it did not sound like an arms depot from where I was because when one of those goes off, it is multiple explosions over minutes, even hours depending on the size of the facility," the resident says. "All I heard was one big boom. I was sure from the quality of the noise that anyone in its immediate vicinity was dead. Something definitely happened, but I would not trust the [Revolutionary] Guards to be absolutely forthcoming as to what it was."
With reporting by Aaron J. Klein / Tel Aviv
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