For at least a decade now, Israel has been conducting a shadow war with Iran in the region that is proving quite successful, maybe even a little too much so. The radical regime in Tehran is currently under mounting pressure to either account for a series of recent mishaps across the country or start exacting revenge on Israel for its suspected sabotage campaign. Given other developments in the region, even the Corona pandemic may be not be able to forestall a serious military flare-up in the region.

FOR THOSE keeping count, as of this Friday morning there have now been eight mysterious ‘incidents’ at various military and industrial facilities across Iran over the past two weeks. This includes explosions and/or fires at a ballistic missile factory, a missile storage facility, a medical clinic in Tehran, a power plant and a petrochemical plant in southern Iran, an automotive factory, a gas storage facility next to the Parchin military base, and a warehouse at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant.

These last two sites are especially noteworthy. The Parchin base was once linked to suspected nuclear trigger tests, and Iran has repeatedly denied UN atomic inspectors access to the site. Meantime, the Natanz blast apparently took out a building where new centrifuges were being “balanced” before they were put into operation. Recall that the Natanz plant was temporarily incapacitated ten years ago by the Stuxnet computer virus co-designed by the US and Israel. More recently, Iranian authorities doubled its enrichment capacity in violation of the 2015 international agreement meant to curb Iran’s atomic weapons drive. Analysts estimate last week’s blast could now shut Natanz down for up to two years.

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