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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Iran accuses Israel of missile sabotage plot

The alleged scheme sought to secretly plant exploding parts in Iranian weapons

Iran has accused Israeli intelligence of plotting to sell “faulty” parts for Tehran’s ballistic missile program through a foreign supplier, claiming the defective components were designed to explode.

Deputy Defense Minister Brigadier General Reza Talaei-Nik aired the allegations on state TV on Thursday night, saying Iranian intelligence had uncovered a “multi-year” sabotage operation intended to disrupt the country’s military development.

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“Our intelligence forces detected the connectors before they entered the missile system,” the official said, referring to the malfunctioning missile parts. “The enemy did not understand that we detected [their plot], which means that they wanted to surprise us with an operation on defense systems but they were taken by surprise.”

He added that the operation would have crippled advanced military gear and cost the government millions in damages had it gone unnoticed, and said the Defense Ministry had already identified and removed the problematic connectors from the missile program.

Talaei-Nik went on to explain that Tehran was first tipped off to the possibility of such sabotage nine years ago, when intelligence agencies found that the Israeli Mossad “was focusing on some subjects in the defense industry, including the connector.” He said Israeli agents worked through a “professional network” which posed as a legitimate foreign supplier, and surreptitiously included the defective parts in shipments to Iran.

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The deputy defense chief added that Tehran would not hesitate to take legal action against any states that may have collaborated in the plot. While he did not specify any other countries involved, a 2019 New York Times report stated that then US president Donald Trump had revived “a secret American program to sabotage Iran’s missiles and rockets,” first created under President George W. Bush. It is unclear if the project has continued under Trump’s successor.

The alleged Israeli sabotage plan was first reported by Iranian media outlets earlier this week, citing an unnamed official in the Defense Ministry’s Intelligence Organization. The source noted that the parts supplier worked “under direct orders from the Mossad,” claiming it “intended to convert the produced missiles into explosive devices to harm industrial lines and employees working in this field.”

A broadcast on Iranian state TV also showed the parts in question, saying they are “responsible for connecting the [computer] network of Iranian-made ballistic missiles, as well as drones.”

Tehran has accused Tel Aviv of a long line of similar sabotage operations in the past, including after a large explosion at Iran’s Parchin military complex last year. Other mysterious blasts have also rocked the country’s space and nuclear programs, though Israeli officials have consistently denied involvement.