French newspaper Le Monde said that the explosion that shook a site in the Iranian nuclear complex of Natanz had turned out to be a deliberate act and that Israel had a hand in it, but Tehran wanted to avoid escalation, fearing that the Europeans would align with the American position.
In a joint article between Jerusalem newspaper correspondent Louis Embert and journalist Alan Cavall, the two authors said that a Middle East intelligence official told the New York Times - without revealing his identity - that Israel was responsible for the powerful explosion, which is still not known of exact origin.
Former Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman criticized the statement, and attributed it to Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, without naming it explicitly, and said that this official must be silenced.
Under the Israeli policy of not denying such information or officially confirming it, Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi last Sunday merely said that Israel’s goal was to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, and that it was therefore "doing better than not talking about it."
In the same context, the Tel Aviv authorities announced on Monday that they had launched a new spy satellite, capable of improving its monitoring of Iran's nuclear activities.
For its part, Tehran confirmed earlier that the Natanz facility - in which advanced centrifuges for the production of enriched uranium - are damaged and damaged, and that it had completed its investigations and knowledge of the source of the accident, but it has refrained from disclosing it at the present time "for security reasons."
The newspaper noted that the information provided by Tehran mixes transparency and precaution, at a time when Iranian public opinion is wondering about a series of events that have recently targeted the state’s infrastructure, including sites related to nuclear and ballistic programs.
Wait and see
In Israel, Iranian anticipation and lack of clarity are interpreted as a reluctance to engage in a military escalation, as former Israeli Military Intelligence chief Amos sees that "the Iranians' problem is that they do not wish to escalate before the US elections" scheduled for next November.
What motivated Natanz’s latest offensive - according to the authors - is that from the Tel Aviv perspective, Iran appears partly constrained by an unprecedented economic crisis under the influence of US sanctions and the Covid epidemic-19, and fears of provoking American forces in the pre-election period, so this supposed weakness opens Tel Aviv has a window of opportunity for a few months.
"The ultimate goal of Iran is to lift the sanctions and not the military escalation, but it is difficult not to respond so that they do not appear weak (...), you might think that a cyber attack on Israel," said Sima Shine, former director of the Mossad Research and Evaluation division responsible for Iran at the Institute for National Security Studies. The United States will not turn into a military confrontation, but its success is not certain, especially since its recent attempt against the Israeli water network has been unsuccessful. "
The authors add that although the official Iranian news agency, following the Natanz incident, published a text that warns Washington and Tel Aviv of the Iranian response and indicates that they have crossed the red line and warns of the need to rethink an Iranian strategy, it has so far been cautious in its responses.
But restraint is prevalent in Tehran, according to an expert in Iranian diplomatic affairs, who says that "excuses should not be given to the United States through a reckless reaction."
The writers of Le Monde's article pointed out that the policy of maximum pressure on Tehran pursued by Washington did not produce any convincing results, and that it is therefore launching a campaign at the UN Security Council to extend the arms embargo imposed on Iran before it ends next October, and threatens the full return of United Nations sanctions. The United States, but the rest of the council’s members - especially Europeans - reject such a scenario.
The basis of this - according to the authors - is that the Iranian executive appears to want at this stage to avoid such a scenario, by showing caution, especially as an Iranian response can benefit the United States, which may force the Europeans to shift, even reluctantly, to their support. .
According to Israeli military intelligence expectations, activities at the Natanz site do not warrant urgent Israeli military action driven by fear of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons in the short term, because Tehran's capabilities are still limited, and because the damaged site is open to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
At the conclusion of their article, the two authors suggested that the Natanz incident, this part of the Iranian nuclear program, would be covered in mystery, as Tehran may wish to rebuild facilities similar to those destroyed but secretly.