Iran Shuts Down its Nuclear Sites After Attack on Israel

HomeWARIran Shuts Down its Nuclear Sites After Attack on Israel

In an explosive gambit that has the world holding its breath, Iran hurled over 300 missiles and armed drones at the Israeli homeland this weekend. It was Tehran’s first direct strike on its archfoe’s territory – a brazen act of aggression that followed what Iran claims was a deadly Israeli air raid on Iranian forces in Syria.

As tensions spiked, the Islamic Republic made the concerning move to shutter all its nuclear sites to outside inspectors for over 24 hours. The temporary blackout cloaked Iran’s atomic activities in renewed secrecy at a perilous moment.

The global nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, confirmed the previously unthinkable one-day pause in monitoring. IAEA chief Rafael Grossi revealed the security-based closure to reporters at the United Nations on Monday, sending a chill through the international community.

“Our inspectors in Iran were informed by the authorities that yesterday, all nuclear facilities would remain off-limits on security considerations,” Grossi stated gravely. “I decided our monitors would not re-enter until the situation was completely calm.”

While the sites reopened Monday, Grossi held inspectors at bay until Tuesday out of an “abundance of caution,” as he put it. The IAEA head warned the bitter adversaries to exercise “extreme restraint” to avoid triggering a calamitous regional war that could rage out of control.

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For years, Israel has accused Iran of covertly pursuing nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran vehemently denies. But Israel has conducted daring operations to sabotage Iran’s nuclear progress, which it views as an existential threat.

In 2020, a hit squad allegedly deployed by Israel’s Mossad spy agency used an advanced robot gun to assassinate Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, in a gunfight neat Tehran. And over a decade ago, the Stuxnet computer virus – widely attributed to U.S.-Israeli cyber forces – temporarily wrecked Iranian enrichment centrifuges.

Now, with tensions at a boiling point, there are grave concerns Israel could opt for a unilateral military strike on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure in a bid to set back potential bomb-making abilities.

“We are always worried about this possibility,” Grossi admitted, referring to a potential Israeli attack on Iran’s atomic facilities should diplomacy definitively fail to constrain the program.

Israel has a stark history of taking preemptive military action against perceived nuclear menaces on its doorstep. In 1981, Israeli warplanes bombed Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq over strident U.S. objections. And in 2007, Israeli jets pulverized a suspected nuclear reactor being built by Syria, though Israel kept the daring raid under wraps until 2018.

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As for Iran’s weekend barrage on Israel, the Israeli military said it struck down most of the incoming Iranian munitions with its sophisticated air defenses. But with a single missile slipping through and slightly injuring an Israeli woman, the attacks shattered a tense stalemate – an ominous sign of how easily the archrivals’ shadow war could careen into an uncontrolled escalation spiral.

Tehran said the audacious strikes were retaliation for an Israeli air raid in Damascus that killed seven members of its elite Revolutionary Guards force, including two senior commanders. Though Israel has not claimed responsibility, it has conducted hundreds of bombing runs against Iranian targets in Syria during that country’s civil war.

Israel sees Iran’s entrenched military presence in Syria, along with its backing of militant groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon, as grave twin threats. But it reserves its greatest fear for Iran’s nuclear work, which the West believes is aimed at developing a bomb despite Tehran’s assertions it only wants peaceful energy.

That suspicion drove world powers to strike the controversial 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that temporarily capped its atomic activities in exchange for economic incentives. But after President Donald Trump quit the pact in 2018 and launched a “maximum pressure” campaign, Iran began openly breaching the deal’s enrichment limits.

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Efforts to restore the accord have deadlocked, heightening concerns that Iran could soon be able to race toward a nuclear weapon if it made the political decision to do so. Israel insists it will never allow its nemesis to obtain that capability, keeping open the option of unilateral military strikes as a final resort.

For its part, Iran has warned of “vigorous retaliation” against any attack on its nuclear facilities – which Grossi stressed remain under IAEA monitoring despite the weekend’s highly unusual inspections pause tied to security threats.

“This has not impacted our inspection activities overall,” the IAEA chief maintained in an attempt to project a sense of control over the volatile situation.

But with diplomatic offramps narrowing, the high-stakes game of nuclear brinkmanship and tit-for-tat strikes is clearly becoming more perilous. Most worryingly, analysts fear the archrivals could soon stumble into an uncontrolled escalation that drags the entire region toward catastrophic conflict neither side can salvage its way out of.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a seasoned basketball journalist with a passion for the WNBA and NBA. His insightful writing combines commentary and stats, providing comprehensive coverage. Alee sheds light on the overlooked WNBA while championing its players. He also delivers in-depth NBA analysis, offering unique perspectives on trades, drafts, and league dynamics. With exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes access, Alee gives readers an unparalleled look into the lives of basketball's biggest stars.

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