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Major Explosion at Iranian Steel Plant, Israeli Source Calls It Work of Mossad, MEK

An Iranian steel plant near Yazd, whose dedication was attended by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad only six months ago, suffered a major explosion that killed seven, including “foreign nationals” as reported in Iranian media and Haaretz.  The plant was built by Russia and is reported to be dedicated to military production. The foreign nationals who died may’ve been involved in the construction of the facility or the industrial processes carried out there. Haaretz reports they may’ve been North Koreans, and notes that the factory is reported to include a “closed military zone” whose purpose isn’t clear. All of which makes the following information relevant.

Haaretz reports that western intelligence sources claim that North Korea is supplying Iran and Syria with special types of steel necessary to produce advanced missile designs and upgraded centrifuge equipment:

North Korea has supplied Syria and Iran with a special kind of steel used to upgrading missiles and building centrifuges for uranium enrichment, the German newspaper Die Welt reported over the weekend…The material, called maraging steel…is prohibited to countries under sanctions such as Iran…

Iran is trying to obtain the steel through its clandestine purchasing networks around the world. The steel would enable Tehran to construct modified centrifuges, which would in turn allow it to enrich higher quality uranium at a faster speed.

Haaretz doesn’t connect these stories but Ynet does saying that what Iran claims was an explosion of ammunition caused the damage to the plant.

My Israeli source says the explosion was deliberate sabotage by the Mossad with inside help from the MEK.  Further, he says it was part of a long string of such events planned by Israeli intelligence and that this black ops program will continue. Smadar Perry, a Yediot reporter reports that “experts” have informed her that the explosion was a “deliberate mishap,” though she doesn’t delve into who might be the author (this would certainly be information under military censorship).

Today, Israeli minister Bogie Yaalon, a former IDF chief of staff and known nationalist hardliner offered a particularly bleak foreign press briefing in which he said that Israel did not support the MEK’s U.S. campaign to be removed from the U.S. terror list:

 Israel distanced itself on Monday from efforts by exiled Iranian organisation MEK, which has helped expose Tehran’s controversial nuclear programme, to be removed from the U.S. terrorism blacklist.

The Mujahedin-e-Khalq’s well-funded outreach to the Obama administration has won bipartisan support in Washington at a time of widespread speculation that Israel and Western allies are stepping up sabotage in Iran, possibly using local dissidents.

Asked during a briefing for foreign reporters whether Israel backed the MEK’s campaign, Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon said: “No. We don’t consider it an asset, and we are not interfering in the internal affairs of Iran.

I’m trying to ascertain in greater detail what Yaalon said on this subject.  But from what’s written above Yaalon appears to be distancing his country from support of MEK’s attempt to be delisted by the U.S.  Either he’s saying Israel wants nothing to do with the entire issue of MEK including its campaign to be removed.  Or he’s saying Israel doesn’t want MEK delisted with the implication being if their role in terror acts inside Iran were ever exposed, it would embarrass Israel (and it’s U.S. ally).

This string of terror attacks inside Iran should give policymakers in Washington great pause in reviewing the MEK petition.  While the group may’ve stopped attacks against U.S. targets, I believe it is up to its eyeballs in terror attacks inside Iran.  While it may be true that we support such terror attacks (whether the CIA is involved in any way in this campaign remains to be seen), it would look awfully bad for us to clear them of these charges and then find out later that they’re still the terrorists their critics have accused them of being all along.

Yaalon’s other chilling statement concerning Iran was quoted on Dan Williams Twitter feed:

Yaalon says #Iran regime must face choice: “to have the bomb, or to survive.”

This ominous threat points out just how completely divorced the two sides are from each other.  Israel threatens attack and regime change if Iran doesn’t give up its nuclear program.  While Iran sees a potential nuclear weapon as a sure-fire means of protecting it from precisely the sorts of existential threats posed by Israel.  We appear to be continuing on the road to war.

The question is whether this black ops campaign by Israeli intelligence in collaboration with a known international terrorist entity will succeed. That depends on what the goal is: if it is to delay Iran’s progress toward an alleged nuclear weapon, that may succeed. But if it is to have any significant impact on denying Iran this weapon should it determine that is its goal, the answer is that it must fail. Not only will it fail, but when full details of the campaign become known as they likely will in time, it will harm Israel’s reputation to have dallied with tyrannical cultists like MEK.

If the purpose is to lead to a full-scale military attack on Iran by testing the reaction of the world community to the terrorism that precedes it–well, that’s precisely why I write this blog. To raise a voice against any escalation in violence that could lead to far worse violence. This covert campaign against Iran will not succeed and should be opposed by all who seek a real rapprochement between the sides and resolution of the issues around Iran’s nuclear program. I fear however, that Israel believes such a solution is neither possible nor does it want one. Rather, it wishes an all-out confrontation with Iran that will deliver a blow that will sink that nation’s ambitions to be a regional power. The reason Israel seeks this outcome is that it refuses to countenance any competitor threatening its own hegemony.

The U.S., as it so often has during the Obama presidency, stands aside and plays no useful role in lessening tension or negotiating a way out of the crisis. This will lead to terrible damage down the line when the almost inevitable military conflict happens and we have even less options than than we do now to ameliorate the situation.

{ 22 comments… add one }
  • hass December 12, 2011, 2:55 PM

    There’s absolutely no evidence that Israel was behind this blast, and ABSOLUTELY no evidence that Iran sees nuclear weapons as necessary. Stop this, Richard. You’re going off a deep end here.

    • dickerson3870 December 12, 2011, 4:46 PM

      It is far more likely that Israel and the U.S. are the ones who are “going off a deep end.”
      Hand in hand,
      down, down, down
      into the deep, dark abyss!

      P.S. MY POSTULATE: If Iran were allowed to become capable of developing a nuclear weapon (not even actually having one), that would essentially constitute a breech of Israel’s “Iron Wall”*. Jabotinsky’s “Iron Wall” has been Israel’s modus operandi for decades, and is especially ingrained into the Likud mind-set. They simply cannot fathom Israeli security** using any alternative paradigm. Hence, any threat to Israel’s “Iron Wall” becomes an “existential threat” to Israel (especially for Likud-minded).

      * The Iron Wall, Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky, 1923 – link to mideastweb.org

      ** including Israel’s prospects for consuming the West Bank and perhaps expanding further


      (excerpt)…Jabotinsky argued that the Palestinians would not agree to a Jewish majority in Palestine, and that “Zionist colonisation must either stop, or else proceed regardless of the native population. Which means that it can proceed and develop only under the protection of a power that is independent of the native population – behind an iron wall, which the native population cannot breach.”[1] The only solution to achieve peace and a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, he [Ze’ev Jabotinsky] argued, would be for Jews to unilaterally decide its borders and defend them with the strongest security possible…

      SOURCE – link to en.wikipedia.org

      • dickerson3870 December 12, 2011, 5:28 PM

        RE: “It is far more likely that Israel and the U.S. are the ones who are ‘going off a deep end’.” – me, above

        One day in the State of the Jewish People, a ‘light unto the Nations’ ~ by Jerome Slater, 12/11/11
        LINK – link to jeromeslater.com
        Veteran Israeli activist warns against ‘neo-fascist’ legislation ~By Ofra Edelman, Haaretz, 12/9/11
        LINK – link to haaretz.com
        In Israel, ‘fascist’ is not a rude word ~ by Amira Hass, Haaretz, 12/09/11
        LINK – link to haaretz.com
        Israel’s bizarre decision to give up on education – and its future, by Ami Kaufman, 972 Magazine, 12/03/11
        LINK – link to 972mag.com
        The assault on Israeli women’s rights ~ By Noga Tarnopolsky, Global Post, 12/09/11
        LINK – link to salon.com

      • pabelmont December 12, 2011, 7:25 PM

        How wise, I suppose, Jabotinsky was! Those who followed saw an even better strategy, an IRON WALL ON WHEELS, so that far from finding it prudent for “Jews to unilaterally decide its borders” , the latecomers found it even better not to decide its borders. Happy 12/2011.

        • sass December 12, 2011, 9:22 PM

          That IRON WALL ON WHEELS could be called a Caterpillar D9R bulldozer. It does a smashing job of deciding Israel’s border, everyday.

          • Elisabeth December 14, 2011, 12:15 AM

            “Smashing” indeed!

  • PersianAdvocate December 12, 2011, 9:17 PM

    “While Iran sees a potential nuclear weapon as a sure-fire means of protecting it from precisely the sorts of existential threats posed by Israel.”

    What, besides bend over and show all obscene forms of transparency NEVER ASKED FOR OF ANY SOVEREIGN COUNTRY to invite veritable bloodthirsty mobs from ransacking Iran like a horde of barbarians with information on Iran’s infrastructure and military expertise????

    (1) IRAN HAS ALLOWED ACCESS beyond any measure ever for over 7 years.

    (2) NO CREDIBLE EVIDENCE has ever been shown to show that Iran is in violation of the NPT,

    (3) Iran’s Supreme Leader staked his entire religious authority and reason to be (via Fatwa, the highest religious decree) to ban nuclear weapons. Iran repeatedly states that it is not interested in nuclear weapons;

    (4) Iran HEADS THE DISARMAMENT MOVEMENT (it spearheaded the UN resolution to ban nuclear weapons in the Middle East);

    (4) There is NO STRATEGIC ADVANTAGE in developing nuclear weapons. Iran’s pragmatic Mullahs are not crazy people looking for Jewish blood to drink (besides, there’s vintage 3,000+ year old lineage Jewish blood right there in Iran at its CORE at the JEWISH CORE ATTACHED TO IRAN BY THE ROOTS ITS CULTURE WHICH WILL NEVER BE SEVERED BY A SETTLEMENT-BUILDING IDEOLOGY. Put your fairy tales aside for a second and consider that even if Iran did develop nuclear weapons it would be a 70+ YEAR OLD TECHNOLOGY. The World would know about it;


    Say it again, “USING A NUKE ON ISRAEL WILL KILL THE PALESTINIANS” It will also kill the Arabs in any surrounding region. What’s with the schizophrenic look at Iran’s intentions. Are they looking for regional hegemony or to lose even the faction Iran now basically leads thanks to bad strategy by US and Israel?

    Huffing and puffing and beating your chest at the line is akin to having ZERO POWER.

    And you know what else? Claiming you are sabotaging Iran’s infrastructure like this a violation of international law and a terrorist act. The Pentagon was a military structure after all when it was attacked. Are you saying Al Qaeda were not terrorists?

    Disclaimer: this message was addressed over Richard’s shoulders at people who stood behind that statement. Richard, thanks for the opportunity to let me rant. ;)

    • PersianAdvocate December 12, 2011, 9:21 PM

      Ouch. I apologize for a horribly mangled post. My brain filled in the words for me that my fingers didn’t get to typing ;)

      My thesis should read:

      “What, besides bend over and show all obscene forms of transparency NEVER ASKED FOR OF ANY SOVEREIGN COUNTRY does a country have to be open to in order to basically invite veritable bloodthirsty mobs to ransack Iran like a horde of barbarians with foreknowledge of Iran’s infrastructure and military expertise????”

    • Asaf December 13, 2011, 6:53 AM


      Suppose they drop a bomb like the one the U.S used in Hiroshima in the middle of Tel Aviv. if we start going west from the west end of the west bank it will take us 10Km before we reach the first shattered window. even the fallout won’t reach there. it’s a bomb not an Asteroid.

      • PersianAdvocate December 13, 2011, 9:15 AM

        This is a decent point and I thank you for making it because it forced me to look into things. The main assumption here is that the bomb would be a Little Boy (the one used on Hiroshima) and that it would then be detonated in a similar fashion to Little Boy. How do you suppose Iran will be able to put a little boy on top of a delivery system and successfully shoot/explode it over Tel Aviv with any precision given Iron Dome, other probably unspoken of missile defenses, etc.?

        Barring that, I don’t think we have any real accurate or trustworthy assessments of nuclear fall out. There was far too much motivation to cover up that sort of information by the victors. We do know what happens, however, when a nuclear plant goes awry: Chernobyl, Fukushima, etc.

        Also, we can safely assume that if Israel was nuked, Israel would devour the Palestinians ASAP lest they had some sort of death wish, no? Or would the IDF be so distracted they wouldn’t see the Palestinians subtly sleeping in their reclaimed beds? lol

        So, my statement stands, but you really did challenge it well ! (Def Kudos for that!) I would also say, by extension,


        There’s a famous quote, dunno if anyone’s heard it, “Eye for an eye…latke for some hummus” or something like that. Israel would retaliate and so you are assuming the Mullahs have a suicidal death wish.

        • herenot December 14, 2011, 4:27 AM

          “you are assuming the Mullahs have a suicidal death wish.”

          well… they had no problems sending kind to clear mines before, or sending people to blow themselfs up – as there’s a reward in the afterlife, or so they say/think.

          it’s not a far fetched assumption when you look at the facts. and I’m sure the mullas themselfs will be safe, anyway.

      • Elisabeth December 14, 2011, 12:17 AM

        As if there are no Palestinians (Israeli Arabs) living in Israel.

      • Richard Silverstein December 14, 2011, 12:57 AM

        They don’t drop bombs like the one they dropped on Hiroshima anymore. Today’s bombs would be far more powerful & lethal.

  • Amir December 13, 2011, 1:17 AM

    You are taking Yallon things way out of context.
    this is what he said:
    “”איראן גרעינית היא סיוט לעולם החופשי”, הזהיר המשנה לראש הממשלה, שהדגיש שוב ושוב כי תוכנית השלטונות בטהרן חייבת להיעצר: “הזמן לכך אוזל. מדובר בשנים ספורות ואפילו חודשים עד שהאיראנים יוכלו להשיג יכולת גרעינית צבאית. העולם החופשי חייב למהר כדי להעמיד את המשטר האיראני בדילמה של פצצה או הישרדות”, אמר. ”
    “צריכה להיות אופציה צבאית אמינה כמוצא אחרון, וכדי להימנע ממנה יש להדק את הסנקציות”.הוא הבהיר כי ישראל לא צריכה להוביל את המאבק מול ממשל אחמדינג’אד, אלא הקהילה הבינלאומית כולה: “אסור שתהיה לו יכולת גרעינית, ואנו מאמינים שניתן למנוע זאת ממנו. כשחמינאי היה תחת לחץ בשנת 2003, הוא היה מוכן להשעות את הפרויקט למשך כשנתיים, כמו הוויתור של קדאפי על פרויקט הגרעין הלובי, וכל זה ללא ירייה אחת”.
    link to nrg.co.il

    A nuclear Iran is a nightmare to the free world warns Yallon who stated again and again that the Plan of the Iranian regime must be stopped. We are talking few years or even few months before the Iranian’s would be able to obtain military nuclear capabilities, the free world must hurry and face the Iranian regime with a dilemma it’s survivor or military nuclear capabilities.

    “There must be a credible military option as a last resort, and to avoid (using it) the sanctions should be tightened.”

    He made ​​it clear that Israel should not lead the struggle against Ahmadinejad Government and it should be an effort led by the entire international community. Iran “must not have military nuclear capability, and we believe that you can prevent it from him. When Khamenei was under pressure in 2003, he was willing to suspend the project for two years, as Qaddafi’s renunciation of the Libyan nuclear program, all without a single shot. ”

    Yaalon is obviously calling for an increased involvement of the international community, and tightening the sanctions. He’s not calling for a military option at this stage.
    You are taking his statements out of context to fit you twisted agenda (whatever that may be)

    I doubt you would have the guts to publish that.

  • free man December 13, 2011, 3:31 AM

    Now every work accident in Iran is attributed to Mossad.
    As a Jew, this is nothing new.

  • Peacemaker1 December 13, 2011, 4:41 AM

    Such tragedy.
    The Iranians should be more careful, they seem to have a lot of accidents.

    • Richard Silverstein December 13, 2011, 3:29 PM

      If you write another dumb snarky comment like this you may meet with an accident here, like my hitting the “ban” button to consign you to oblivion.

  • Ami December 13, 2011, 7:24 AM

    I’d be very surprised if the Mossad and CIA were not working in tandem with the MEK. Likewise the PKK. Don’t take Yaalon’s remarks too seriously.

  • hass December 13, 2011, 7:42 AM

    The argument that Iran “must want” nuclear weapons as a deterrent to Israel/US is false. As Ahmadinejad just said recently, a potential couple of nukes in Iran could not hope to counter the 20,000 nukes the US has. Not every country that has a nuclear program is necessarily hell-bent on making nukes. If Iran wanted to keep open the “option” to build nukes, it would not have offered to place restrictions on its nuclear program far in excess of its legal obligations under the NPT – for example, they offered to operate Iran’s nuclear program jointly with the US. Nukes, believe it or not, can be destabilizing and actually harm Iran’s strategic interests. The last thing IRan wants to do is start a nuclear weapons proliferation game in the Mideast

    • PersianAdvocate December 13, 2011, 9:45 AM

      Right, it’s a chauvinism that is promoted by this type of thinking: “Since Israel needs nukes to deter others, so must Iran”.

      I can write another essay about how this is far too simplified as an analysis, but I am limited to one per Richard Silverstein Blog! ;)

  • Clif Brown December 14, 2011, 4:57 PM

    You know that old tired scene in an Old West bar where one guy keeps needling another with taunts and jabs of a finger, maybe even getting up to a slap on the face?

    The purpose is to cause the harassed party to explode in rage and allow the taunter to do him in because, after all, he was only defending himself.

    A unilateral attack, though crafted so well by the U.S. in Iraq, is dicey and to everyone but a neocon, looks bad.

    But, suppose Iran could be irritated enough to try some kind of counteraction in Israel? Not some phony thing done by Israel but a real explosion or something pulled off by Iran. Whoa! Then it’s jump in those F16’s boys and be on your way! An clean and shining Israel mounts the steed of righteousness with Uncle Sam coming up fast behind with the American public shouting go! go! go!

    And of course if Iran doesn’t do anything to counter these mysterious explosions then they do work to keep Iran off kilter and anxious.

    Isn’t this called a win-win from a certain viewpoint?

  • Richard Silverstein December 13, 2011, 5:27 PM

    Consider it done.

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