Fordow Nuclear Explosion Shows War With Iran Has Already Started

On the eve of the recent Israeli elections, an explosion hit Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility, located near the city of Qum. The facility uses more than 2,700 centrifuges to enrich uranium at levels of around 20%, and as such, is an integral part of Iran’s nuclear program. Bizarrely enough, however, the incident was not covered by any media outlet until World Net Daily broke the story on Friday. Furthermore, the story was not independently verified until Monday, when an Israeli intelligence official confirmed that an explosion had occurred even as Iran denied it, claiming that it was Western propaganda in preparation for the newest round of nuclear talks.

The anonymous Israeli official who confirmed the explosion also claimed that they were ignorant of whether or not the incident was sabotage or accidental, and did not reveal whether or not an Israeli aircraft was nearby at the time of the blast. However, when we piece together the uncannily recent circumstantial evidence, a strong possibility emerges that this was another incident in the U.S.-Israel shadow war on Iran’s nuclear program.

During an interview at the Davos World Economic Forum last Friday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak outlined the possibility of a “surgical option” as an alternative to a full scale war to stop Iran’s nuclear program. During the interview, he indicated that the White House and Pentagon are working closely with Israel to develop a series of covert operations that could seriously inhibit Iran’s nuclear program. The Pentagon did not confirm or deny Barak’s statements but instead implied that they routinely make detailed plans for any conceivable scenario. Nevertheless, U.S. military technology would be absolutely necessary to carry out such a strike on Fordow, which is buried beneath 300 feet of concrete. Due to Iran’s presence over several dangerous fault lines, the country has developed some of most robust anti-earthquake engineering technology in the world. Therefore, the only weapon that could externally penetrate and inflict damage on Fordow is the U.S.’ Massive Ordnance Penetrator, the heaviest bomb in the U.S. arsenal, designed with the express purpose of assaulting underground, impregnably-fortified structures. Throughout 2012, the bomb underwent refinement until, merely two weeks ago, Boeing announced that the bomb now has the capability to power through 200 ft of concrete before exploding. Given the newly refined Massive Ordnance Penetrator and Barak’s recent comments, it seems very likely that this was an external strike, rather than the result of an internal malfunction.  

Predictably, the Iranian regime has denied an explosion ever occurred, yet this is how it has repeatedly responded to just about every attack on its military or nuclear operations. In 2010, Iran denied that the infamous Stuxnet virus had failed to reach the centrifuges that it targeted to render them inoperable, despite the fact that Iranian scientists took thousands of centrifuges offline, which the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed. In 2012, the U.S. finally confirmed that the virus, named Operation Olympic Games, was manufactured in the U.S. with Israeli support dating back to the Bush administration.

In November 2011, the regime drastically understated the extent of the damage a military base roughly 30 miles from Iran suffered in an explosion that they claimed was accidental. A potential suspect was the Mujahideen e-Khalq (MEK), or the People’s Mujahideen of Iran, which is opposed to Iran’s Islamist regime. However, the group uncharacteristically did not take credit for the attack, and has not officially been armed since 2003. Furthermore, the regime was rather public about the research conducted at the base, which was geared at developing a missile supposedly capable of targeting Israel. Additionally, General Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, a key player in the country’s missile program, was visiting the base at the time of the attack. As such, the possibility of Israeli covert operations cannot be overlooked. This was further corroborated by various media sources at the time, which reported the possibility of Mossad involvement, allegations which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other officials refused to comment on.

It is entirely possible that Israel used MEK to carry out these attacks. One element of the shadow war that Iran has been unable to deny are the targeted murders of its nuclear scientists. U.S. officials have leaked to the press that Israel has very close relations with MEK, which carried out these murders. The Mossad even trains and arms members of the group in Israel itself.

Clearly the attack on the Fordow nuclear facility is a logical next step in a series of covert operations used by the U.S. and Israel against Iran’s nuclear program. Covert operations alone will not prevent Iran from going nuclear, but they could severely increase the length of time it will take for that to happen. 

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Bryant Harris

Bryant Harris is a reporter with Inter Press Service News. He has worked in Muscat, Oman and was a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco. He graduated from UW-Madison in 2011 with a BA in Middle East Studies.

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