Drone Attack on Iranian Isfahan Facility – Who did it?


Foreign Affairs

Tel Aviv: The attack on January 28 that hit an Iranian weapons production plant created many speculations about who performed it. Heavy armed drones hit the main building of the plant in the city of Isfahan resulting in a big fire that burned for hours. The type of drones used in the attack point to the fact that they were launched from a “relatively short range”, according to Middle Eastern sources.

While the middle eastern and Israeli sources said that the attack was performed by the US and aimed at foiling Tehran’s plan to supply more advanced armed drones to Russia for use in Ukraine, other sources said that Israel performed the attack. The Iranians have blamed Israel for the massive attack. Israel keeps silent.

Mykhailo Podolyak, a top advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, mocked Iran on Twitter on January 29 after it appeared to be severely damaged by a drone attack at a weapons plant in Isfahan by tweeting, “Ukraine did warn you.”

Israeli sources said that the plant has not been attacked in the past and this is another proof that something “dramatic” evolved.  The US delegation to the UN had said on January 13 that Iran plans to transfer ballistic missiles to Russia. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said, ” We believe Iran is now considering the sale of hundreds of ballistic missiles to Russia and also in violation of Council resolutions. We urge Iran to reverse course and not to take these steps. And we urge everyone who supports peace to ask Iran to do the same.”

According to Iran International website operated from London by the opposition to the Iranian regime, multiple explosions were heard from an ammunition facility in the Iranian city of Esfahan. Eyewitness reported big fires that erupted from the site. The first indication of the unusual attack was given by the Arabic news website Al-Arabiya / Al Hadath. This website claimed that the attack was performed by the US air force and another country using armed drones. Israeli sources said that the report of the Arabic news site makes sense as the US wants to block the planned transfer of additional Iranian made armed drones to the Russian force operating in Ukraine.

In recent months, many media outlets have reported that the Russians after purchasing a large number of Iranian made armed drones, have asked Iran for shipments of medium range ballistic missiles. According to Israeli defence sources, the hangar that was attacked was used for the final assembly of the advanced armed drones. One of the sources added that the same heavily guarded perimeter is also used for the final assembly of ballistic missiles.

Major General (ret.) Giora Eiland, a former head of the Israeli National Security Council, told Raksha Anirveda that “it’s almost evident” that the Americans “were in the loop”. The US as part of its assistance to Ukraine may have decided to foil the transfer of more Iranian made weapons systems to the Russians.

While the Iran nuclear program attracted the attention of the US and Europe, Tehran accelerated its ballistic missiles program. In addition to long range ballistic missile capable of hitting targets in Europe and Israel, Iran developed short and medium range ballistic missiles.

The type of armed drones used in the attack have a limited range and Israeli defence sources say that they must have been launched from a distance of not more than “a few hundred kilometres”. One of the sources added that according to eyewitnesses the drones hit the building simultaneously “like a swarm” and that points to a very accurate attack plan. Israeli defence sources also pointed to the fact that last week the CIA director Bill Burns visited Israel and met with the top figures in the Israeli defence establishment.

The sources added that there is a flow of real time intelligence from Israel to the US and that Israel is using a variety of sensors to get the most accurate data about Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missiles programs. Israeli sources pointed to the fact that Iran is “like an open book” when it comes to operational intelligence. One of the sources said that the location and the type of activity in this particular plant have been known from day one.

“The timing of the attack proves that it was selected to prevent something dramatic”.  Israel has been closely following the Iranian nuclear and long range ballistic missiles programs. The new Israeli “full right” government has declared that if and when Iran is on the threshold of the bomb Israel will act. The recent major joint US- Israeli military exercise was designed to simulate a joint US-Israeli military operation against Iran. CENTCOM defined the exercise as a “routine ” one but the facts do not back this claim.