The warehouse that was targeted in Isfahan (Photo credit: IRIB news)
The Wall Street Journal reported that Israel used drones to attack an advanced weapons systems factory in the Iranian city of Isfahan overnight on 29 January.
The strike – the first under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government – was not announced by the Israeli military, which declined to comment on it.
Unnamed US officials allegedly informed The Wall Street Journal that the target was a munitions factory, but whether or not this factory was the intended target is unclear, as a US-sanctioned Space Research Center site is located close by.
The Iranian Defense Ministry offered no information on who it suspected carried out the attack. However, Israel is likely to be the main suspect, as it has in the past been found to be behind many acts of sabotage against the Islamic Republic.
Such incidents include attacks on the Natanz nuclear research facility and other sites, the use of cyber-attacks to cause malfunctions in electrical infrastructure, and the use of miniature drones armed with explosives.
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. Days later, the New York Times (NYT) reported that Israel had explicitly told Washington that it was behind this attack.
It can be assumed from the nature of the attack in Isfahan that Israel is involved, as similar tactics were used in last year’s incident in Kermanshah, which was linked to the Mossad.
On the morning of 29 January, the Iranian Defense Ministry announced that several “unsuccessful” drone attacks had been launched the previous night at 11:30 pm against a military facility in Isfahan, leaving no casualties and causing minor material damages.
“One of [the drones] was hit by the … air defense, and the other two were caught in defense traps and blew up … Fortunately, this unsuccessful attack did not cause any loss of life and caused minor damage to the workshop’s roof,” the defense ministry statement read.
The statement was released following the sound of a large explosion in the central Iranian city.
Israeli media claims that “suicide drones” were used to carry out the attack. However, this is not the case. According to IRNA, the three micro-aerial vehicles were “quadcopters equipped with bomblets,” which are commercially available.
The vehicles have a range of no more than 10 kilometers and seem to have been launched from within the vicinity of the target – specifically, no more than one kilometer away.
Additionally, while Iranian sources have clarified that the development facility is not of great importance, former Mossad chief Danny Yatom claims that missiles are being developed there:
“The facility that was attacked in Iran is where hypersonic missiles are being developed and will be so fast that the air defense systems of developed countries will have difficulty stopping them.”