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Israel is suspected of attacking Russian anti-aircraft defenses at Iran's nuclear power plant


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A military attack on an Iranian nuclear power plant caused greater destruction than previously thought. The message: If Israel wants it, it can.

ISFAHAN – Initially, Iranian state television said three drones were shot down by its own air defenses over Isfahan on the night of April 19. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdullahian told the American broadcaster NBC, missiles are just “toys with which our children play.” Indeed, Israel fired at least one missile at the Shiite government in response to a large-scale Iranian attack on April 13. The Russian-made S-300 air defense system is said to have been deliberately tampered with in order to convey messages, US media said, citing officials from the US and Iran.

Iran has so far kept open whether it blames Israel for the limited attack. Hours later, President Ibrahim Raisi praised his own rocket attack on April 13 in a speech in Semnan province on Friday, but said nothing about the alleged counterattack. Meanwhile, a senior Iranian official said The Times of IsraelThe external source of the incident is yet to be confirmed and it could be an intrusion rather than an external attack.

Satellite photos show that an Israeli retaliatory strike on the Iranian city of Isfahan hit a radar system for a Russian-made air defense battery. © Image Alliance/dpa/Planet Labs PBC/AP | –

A suspected Israeli counterattack caused more damage than expected in Iran

However, Israel could also be held responsible in the event of an intrusion, as in April 2021, Iran blamed an explosive attack that allegedly damaged uranium enrichment centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear power plant. Although not the direct target of the attack this time, the facility also appears to be in focus now. Instead, a senior US official told the broadcaster ABC NewsIsraeli warplanes fired three missiles at an air defense radar sight near Isfahan used to protect the Natanz compound.

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The The New York Times According to two Iranian officials, the attack damaged a Russian-made S-300 air defense system. Satellite images reviewed by the American newspaper support this: they showed damage to the radar of such a weapon system at the 8th Shekhari Air Force Base in Isfahan. Typically it consists of a central radar emplacement positioned around several missile batteries.

Disabled: Russian S-300 air defense system protects Natanz nuclear facility

Open-source intelligence researcher Chris Biggers posted a related satellite image on X (formerly Twitter) that appears to show the situation after the suspected airstrike. A damaged radar can be seen in the middle and empty missile bays in front because their batteries have been removed. Without radar, they are practically blind, so it makes no sense to leave them standing.

Two other Western officials said The New York Times, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at Iran on April 19, but it was not in Israeli or Iranian airspace. The weapon was equipped with technology to avoid detection by Iranian air defense radars. If she is indeed targeting an Iranian radar position, it could be one Harm-rocket From American manufacture. These missiles detect enemy radar signals on the ground and automatically fire on them.

Israel's message to Iran: Highlighting the “technology gap”.

Both official sources said the Israelis' targeted strikes helped show the Iranians what they were capable of. Former Israeli General Israel Ziv made a similar statement Channel 12. According to him, the attack was not intended to cause mass destruction, but to send a “very clear message to Iran” to demonstrate the “technological gap” between the two countries and demonstrate the ability of Israeli forces to strike Iran's most important targets. loud CNN Satellite images actually show no further damage to the air force base near Isfahan.

In other words: on the one hand, Israel is capable of hitting very few targets with precision. On the other hand, it has the ability to go unnoticed. According to its message to Iran, the Jewish state could have directly attacked the Natanz nuclear power plant. However, the decision makers consciously decided against it.

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