Satellite image from 2004 of the Parchin military complex in Iran. (Photo credit: DigitalGlobe, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)
On 25 May, an explosion at the Parchin military research site in Iran resulted in the death of an engineer and the injury of one other person.
According to a US official who spoke to the New York Times (NYT), Israel was likely behind the incident.
The Cradle sought the Iranian Defense Ministry for comment. Two sources from the defense ministry rebuffed the NYT report, but asked The Cradle not to react against it.
An Iranian media source told The Cradle that IRGC Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, who was killed in Tehran earlier this month, belonged to the same research unit.
On 22 May, Khodaei was gunned down by armed men on two motorcycles outside his home. In the wake of the assassination Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi vowed “definite revenge” for the killing of IRGC Colonel Khodaei.
Days later, NYT also issued a report claiming that Israel told the US government it was behind the assassination. Israel claims the assassination was to deter Iran from carrying out operations against Israeli agents abroad, as well as to interfere with the outcome of ongoing negotiations in Vienna on the revival of the 2015 nuclear agreement.
The NYT report on Parchin explosion further stated that while no one has publicly taken responsibility for the incident, it fits a pattern of previous Israeli actions against Iran as part of the clandestine, low-intensity warfare taking place between the two.
The report stated that Israeli officials had refused to comment, and that a US official confirmed suicide drones had attacked Parchin but had not revealed the identity of those behind it or offer further details.
The report noted that the Iranian defense ministry statement viewed the incident as clearly not an accident.
Israel has been found to be behind many sabotage incidents in the past. These incidents include attacks on the Natanz nuclear research facility and other sites; the use of cyber attacks to cause malfunctions to electrical infrastructure and other infrastructure systems, and the use of miniature drones armed with explosives.
On 13 March, the IRGC launched several ballistic missiles at a Mossad base in Erbil, Iraq, following the murder of two of its officers in Syria by an Israeli aerial attack.
However, according to a senior Iranian security source who spoke exclusively to The Cradle, the Erbil retaliatory strike was not in response to the Syria attack – which they say they have a right to respond to at a later time – but a response to an earlier attack on 14 February when Israeli elements in the Iraqi Kurdistan region targeted an Iranian drone base in Kermanshah.
The NYT report mentioned the attack on Kermanshah, and stated that it was carried out by a number of Israeli quadcopter drones armed with explosives.
An unnamed Iranian source revealed to Al Jazeera that Tehran had informed Tel Aviv that the locations of all of Israel’s nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons sites were known to Iran, and that in the event of any act of aggression on Iran by Israel, Iran would strike these targets.
On 18 April, Iranian President Sayyed Ebrahim Raisi also issued a general warning that any Israeli act of aggression against the Islamic Republic would result in Iran striking into the heart of Israeli occupied lands and military bases.
“Just know that if the slightest move on your part occurs against our nation, our armed forces will target the center of the Zionist regime, and the power of our armed forces will not leave you at rest,” Raisi said.