Sunday, May 26, 2024

Iran says its nuclear facilities in Isfahan ‘completely secure’ following Israeli ‘retaliatory strikes’

HomeWARIran says its nuclear facilities in Isfahan 'completely secure' following Israeli 'retaliatory...

Explosions thundered near Iran’s central city of Isfahan on Friday, as air defense systems swung into action across multiple provinces. The blasts sparked chaos, with flights grounded and airspace closed over major cities like the capital Tehran.

But amid the confusion, Iranian state media assured the world that its nuclear facilities in Isfahan had emerged “completely secure” from what U.S. officials called an Israeli “retaliatory” airstrike.

The strikes appear to be a dramatic escalation of the long-simmering shadow war between the arch-enemies Israel and Iran. Just days earlier, Iran had launched an unprecedented barrage of missiles and armed drones targeting Israeli cities in retaliation for a strike on its Damascus consulate blamed on Israel.

“We can confirm that Israel has conducted retaliatory airstrikes targeting Iranian nuclear facilities and military assets in the vicinity of Isfahan,” an anonymous U.S. defense official told American networks like ABC News. “These strikes are in direct response to Iran’s missile and drone attacks against Israeli territory over the past 72 hours.”

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The Israeli military remained tightlipped, simply telling AFP “We don’t have a comment at this time.” But the strikes seem to back up Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vow that Israel reserves “the right to protect itself” after fending off the Iranian bombardment days earlier.

While Iranian state media reported “three explosions” near an army airbase in northwest Isfahan and “several” drones being shot down, outlets like Tasnim news agency cited only unnamed “reliable sources” claiming key nuclear infrastructure escaped damage.

“Nuclear facilities in Isfahan were reported to be completely secure,” Tasnim asserted, without any official confirmation from Iranian authorities themselves.

The back-and-forth attacks have sharply escalated long-simmering regional tensions and raised fears of a full-blown conflict that could draw in Iranian proxies like Hezbollah and Hamas. UN chief Antonio Guterres warned starkly that “one miscalculation, one mistake, could lead to the unthinkable — a full-scale regional conflict that would be devastating for all involved.”

In the strikes’ immediate aftermath, Iran took the precautionary step of suspending all flights over major cities like Tehran, Isfahan and Shiraz. It also closed airspace to international airlines amid the confusion over the security situation.

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The latest flare-up began last weekend when Iran launched a brazen bombardment of Israeli cities and bases with missiles and armed drones like the Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar models. The barrage was billed as retaliation for an April 1 strike on Iran’s Damascus consulate that killed Iranian military advisers — an operation attributed to Israel.

While the Israeli missile defenses like Iron Dome intercepted most of the Iranian munitions, some did slip through, killing two civilians and causing property damage near the Lebanese border.

Israel has a long history of striking Iranian-linked targets inside war-torn Syria to prevent its arch-foe from gaining a permanent military foothold along its borders. However, it has stopped short of confirming it was behind the Damascus strike that touched off the latest regional escalation cycle.

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With the archrivals now exchanging direct strikes on each other’s soil, some observers have deemed this the most serious military confrontation between Israel and Iran in years — potentially even more explosive than a 2018 clash when Iran fired missiles at Israeli positions in the Golan Heights, prompting a ferocious wave of retaliatory airstrikes.

The dangerous spike in hostilities has oil markets on edge, with crude prices jumping over 3% in early Asian trading Friday as jitters spread over potential supply disruptions if the conflict worsens.

As diplomatic efforts kick into high gear to pull the longtime foes back from the brink, a crucial question remains: Whether this represents a brief, brutal confrontation or the opening salvo of a full-blown war with potentially catastrophic regional consequences.

Even as Iranian outlets insist key nuclear sites survived intact, the lack of official confirmation and murky facts on the ground leave the true extent of damage unclear — and the threat of further escalation still looming.



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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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