UPDATE: The Times of London’s Israel correspondent, Sheera Frenkel, has just confirmed the Fordo incident through her own independent sources:
An explosion is believed to have damaged Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility, which is being used to enrich uranium, Israeli intelligence officials have told The Times. Sources in Tel Aviv said yesterday that they thought the explosion happened last week. The Israeli Government is investigating reports that it led to extensive structural damage and 200 workers had been trapped inside.
One Israeli official said: “We are still in the preliminary stages of understanding what happened and how significant it is.” He did not know, he added, if the explosion was “sabotage or accident”, and refused to comment on reports that Israeli aircraft were seen near the facility at the time of the explosion.
Sheera is a terrific reporter. She would not report a story unless totally confident in the authenticity of her source, which makes me even more confident in the accuracy of my own.
A highly-placed Israeli source informs me that Iran’s uranium enrichment facility at Fordo has been extensively damaged by an explosion. The bomb was the work of a joint Israeli-U.S.-MEK sabotage operation codenamed Achilles, which used a Trojan horse to infiltrate the plant.
Bibi Netanyahu convened an extraordinary meeting of all the top intelligence and military brass on Wednesday, the day after the election, to evaluate Achilles. They deemed it a “great success.” Word of the meeting leaked to the media, so the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) released a cover story saying the meeting was about the Syrian situation (Hebrew). It wasn’t.
Such sabotage has happened before to Iranian nuclear facilities. But one of the things that is new about this operation is that this is the first time in his previous reporting that my source has told me the U.S. and MEK collaborated with the Mossad. Previous assassinations were joint efforts of only the MEK and Israel. If this is true, it may mean that the State Department’s removal of the MEK from the U.S. terror list has allowed the CIA to begin working with the Iranian group in a much more direct fashion. Those of us who know about the nature of the MEK can only be alarmed that our government is allying itself with a terrorist cult.
Across Yediot’s front page, this major headline blared (see image):
Mystery Explosion in Iran
Iranian intelligence sources who defected to the west: the uranium enrichment plant in the belly of the earth near Qom was destroyed last week.
Alex Fishman, whose article accompanies the headline, includes hardly a reference to the astonishing news featured in the headline. He does refer to sabotage and mysterious failures which have beset the nuclear program and caused any estimation of an Iranian nuclear weapon to be delayed by two years.
The Yediot headline may refer to a report by Iranian defector using the pseudonym, Reza Khalili, and published in the far-right news site, WND. He was the first to report on the explosion and based his story on a former Iranian intelligence official. That source alleges:
The regime believes the blast was sabotage and the explosives could have reached the area disguised as equipment or in the uranium hexafluoride stock transferred to the site…
The accident occurred on Monday at 11AM Iran time. He adds that 240 personnel are also trapped underground and could not be rescued so far.
To be candid, I would never believe anything Khalili said unless it could be independently corroborated. This explains why. He is an entirely untrustworthy source, nor is WND a reliable publication. But given my source, who added further details not published by Fishman or Khalili, I trust there was an explosion at Fordo. Further, I spoke with an Israeli security correspondent whose work is entirely independent and trustworthy. He too is confident there was such an event. He also agreed the information I published above was accurate as far as what he knows.
Now the question is what impact this will have on Iran’s nuclear program and on the prospect for an attack against Iran. Fordo was Iran’s most advanced, secret, and secure enrichment facility and damaging or destroying it would be a major blow. Further, since the Iranians believed it was impregnable to attack they saw it as a “winning negotiation card” according to Muhammad Sahimi, they could use in negotiations with the west. Now they’ve lost that card and proven that even their most well-protected facility is vulnerable.
But Iran has decentralized its program so that precisely such a setback will not destroy the entire project. Only 20% of Iran’s centrifuges were in Fordo. The rest are in Natanz and other sites. The loss of a large number of scientific and technical staff, if that has occurred, will also damage the program. But again, it has been organized so that even such a devastating outcome could be overcome by other research units around the country. Progress will be delayed, but not stopped or reversed.
As to the likelihood of an attack against Iran, if this story is accurate that prospect has been delayed or even eliminated. Pres. Obama will find no urgency whatsoever to attack Iran militarily when sabotage has proven so effective. Depending on how Bibi reacts, it may drive an even deeper wedge between them if he doesn’t give up the idea of such a joint attack with the U.S.
But I point out as I have every time I’ve reported such scoops: sabotage is not a substitute for having an actual policy concerning Iran’s nuclear program. It does not persuade Iran to renounce its efforts. It does not undermine Netanyahu’s long-standing hatred for Iran and his desire for regime change. Sabotage, whether it’s an explosion or the murder of nuclear scientists, only delays the inevitable. If Iran determines to have a nuclear weapon, it will. Nothing short of regime change can stop such a development.
But Iran’s leaders have repeatedly said they do not intend to create such a weapon. Western and U.S. intelligence sources confirm no evidence proving that Iran is moving in this direction. So what are we sabotaging and why?
Finally, if we want to come to an understanding with Iran about its nuclear program we must do that at the negotiating table, not via sabotage or computer viruses. No doubt, there are cheers at the CIA, Mossad and in the lairs of the MEK. They consider this a great victory (many of them don’t want to bomb Iran either). But it isn’t. It’s merely one battle in a war that they can’t win using the means they’ve adopted. This means that the U.S. has joined the Mossad and MEK in using tactics that would be considered terrorism were they used against us. This isn’t surprising considering the Obama administration’s embraced of targeted killings and drone strikes. Nor is it surprising considering Obama’s pursuit of whistleblowers who attempt to expose our use of such tactics including torture.
I come to the reluctant conclusion that the U.S., like Israel, is a state that uses terror when it suits. Unlike Israel, Obama has all manner of justifications and obfuscations to explain away what it’s doing. The prevailing notion is we’re not doing what you think we’re doing. What we’re doing is constitutional and conforms with international law. John Brennan, Obama’s nominee for the next CIA director, looks a Congressional committee straight in the eye and tells them he’s righteous and dares them to say otherwise.
UPDATE I: I spoke hours ago with Iranian-American journalist Farzad Azizan, who tells me that a number of Iranian news agencies are officially denying any incident at Fordo. Further, Azizan interviewed Khalili’s original source for this story, Hamidreza Zakeri. Zakeri was a former Iranian security official who defected 12 years ago and lives in Germany. Zakeri told Azizan that the report about the explosion originated with a security officer at the Fordo plant. Though Zakeri initially expressed confidence in the reliability of his source, he also conceded the possibility of error, saying we should wait to see what the Iranians say. Not exactly an expression of confidence in one’s source. Other Iranians have urged me to use caution in reporting this story.To be clear, there are two independent sets of sources here. One, associated with Khalili and Zakeri doesn’t appear credible. But I base my story on an entirely different and independent set of sources. In them, I have confidence.
UPDATE II: I urge you to read my reassessment of this story here.
44 thoughts on “SCOOP: Iran’s Fordo Nuclear Plant Extensively Damaged by Sabotage – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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And you really think that Iranians would be able to hide such a blow for over a week ?
Specially when 240 people are trapped inside ?
who’s your source ? Carl Friedrich von Münchhausen ?
I didn’t say 240 people are trapped anywhere. I reported what Khalili claimed & made clear that anything in his report was suspect.
What I claimed is clearly separated and qualified. Read more carefully.
You claimed the report by Alex Fishman who based his on WMD was confirmed by your source.
Is it the same source that claime Hezbollah took control over an Israeli Drone and crashed it next to a secret Israeli Missile base ? Is it the same source that leaked you a week ago the polls in which Eretz Chadashe received 4 seats ?
If it is the same source, you may want to start question his/her/it credibility.
Iran denies the incident – http://www.ynet.co.il/Ext/Comp/CdaNewsFlash/0,2297,L-4337713_184,00.html
I have no idea what you meant to write in yr first sentence. But to respond to what you may have meant to write: Alex Fishman’s story was not based on WND. The headline for the story which he didn’t write MAY HAVE BEEN influenced by WND (or not).
As for the other nonsense in that comment it was OFF TOPIC. Try that kind of shit again & you’ll be moderated. Stay on topic.
The only persons whose credibility I question are Reza Khalili and YOU.
The Times of London is now confirming the Fordo explosion based on sources independent of mine. Gee, sorry. YOu lose this round.
So what do you make out of the White-House announcement of this morning ?
Is it possible (in your opinion) that Obama is helping the Iranian’s ?
“U.S. does not believe media reports about blast at Iranian enrichment plant”
You posed the question: So what are we sabotaging and why? What would your answer be to that question? Or what might be some potential answers? If Iran is not actually working on developing nuclear weapons, then what would be the point of a secret sabotage operation like this? What possible motivation could there be?
Iran is enriching uranium. That is not necessarily an indication of an intent to build a nuke. But even if it is, it doesn’t permit any state from invading Iran’s sovereignty and killing its citizens unless those countries are prepared to have the same done to them. Unlike you, I don’t trust the judgments of Israel or the U.S.’s leaders on this issue. Even if they believe Iran is building a weapon (which as far as the U.S. is concerned they don’t), it doesn’t justify state terrorism.
This story appears to have come from Reza Khalili at WorldNet Daily, both notoriously unreliable sources.
Not true. Again, you haven’t read my post. My sources have nothing to do with WND or Khalili.
Uhh…World Net Digest scooped you by three days.
You didn’t read my post. I don’t rely for my report on WND or Khalili. And in fact, my post does refer to Khalili and use the link you offered. My story is based on independent sources & I would never report anything from WND as sole source.
What annoys me about people like you is that you don’t read the post, but add your two cents anyway in a comment. But your comment only reveals how lazy you’ve been, which diminishes your credibility as reader or commenter.
You’re right. I was lazy and didn’t read your entire post.
I have, however, read that Israel is now moving Iron Dome batteries to her North to respond to Syrian threats. This makes more credible, the statement that Bibi’s discussion with the security and intelligence heads concerned Syria and not Iran.
@Joel: A former senior government minister and a security correspondent for a major Israeli newspaper say otherwise. Guess who I’m goin’ with?
The Times of Israel has published a story as well. I was skeptical (I’ve seen some absolute, utter nonsense come from the Times of Israel) until I saw your post.
It’s not hard to keep something in Iran under wraps. It wasn’t long ago that Israel bombed an alleged nuclear facility there, but it was under construction. Now Israel and the US have really gone and done it; if indeed 240 people are trapped underground, their lives are at risk. This is an act of provocation, an act of war, against Iran, and I doubt that Iran is going to let it slide.
I guess Bibi and Barry are best buds again.
But I just read this about Pshenichnikov:
Oh, that was posted in the wrong place. It wasn’t a reply to Mary 🙂
“Those of us who know about the nature of the MEK can only be alarmed that our government is allying itself with a terrorist cult.” Really? Well, OK, “alarmed”, but terrorism is the stuff from which “national security” is cut.
All states of sufficient size and wealth, I assume, maintain three criminal enterprise organizations:  an avowed army,  an external secret armed forces, spies, saboteurs, assassins (e.g., “CIA”, “MOSSAD”),  an internal secret armed forces, spies, saboteurs, assassins. Whereas the people of such states normally disapprove (generally) of criminal behavior (all the might-makes-right businesses), they also generally approve (whether knowingly is another matter!) of at least the EXTERNAL organizations supported by their state. Due to secrecy, they usually know very little about the purposes and activities of these three branches. In the USA, the courts have “bought” the “right to secrecy” of the government so that even lawsuits which are the last bastion of freedom of discovery in the USA have become powerless to discover either corruption or crimes or (worse than crimes) blunders in the behavior of the THREE.
USA labels some terrorist organizations and states as “terrorist” and leaves others off the list. Why? Because the management of the list is an important tool of so-called national defense policy, that is, of whatever policy of geo-political practice those who hold the reins of power in the state may, from time to time, prefer to follow.
Democracy usually has little to do with it, as  democracy has little to do with the determination of who “those who hold the reins” are and  because those who hold the reins have wrapped their business in secrecy, under the banner of the bumper-sticker phrase “national security” which — apparently empty of any other than operational meaning — operationally means that those who hold the reins need not reveal what they are doing, whether or not it is criminal by the standards of their own state, whether or not it stinks of corruption, etc.
So the USA now works with MEK, which was listed but is no longer listed, as terrorist! Well, well. My, my. And we work with Israel (which fights war after war of conquest or punishment) but we work against Iran (which fights only really defensive wars, so far, recently, against Iraq, now its friend.)
We used to support various anti-soviet factions in Afghanistan which we are now fighting. Blink your eyes and non-terrorists become terrorists and vice-versa.
There was once a lovely book called “Games People Play”. It had nothing on geo-politics, baby.
I’ve also read in several credible sources that the US has been involved in bankrolling and supporting various Al Qaeda groups in Mali.
The US is like Johnny Appleseed, sowing war instead of trees. Obama won re-election while pulling the wool over the American voters’ eyes, reassuring them that there were no plans to attack Iran and insisting that the sanctions and tough diplomacy would work.
What a liar.
Why would Iran continue with nuclear negotiations after such a devastating blow? See: http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/iran-proposes-next-round-of-nuclear-talks-take-place-in-cairo-1.495847
The obvious place to go to refute/confirm this story is the IAEA.
The Iranians informed the IAEA several years ago that Fordow is a nuclear facility, and under the terms of the Iranian Safeguards Agreement that triggered the obligation by the Iranians to open Fordow to be fitted up with IAEA-installed video cameras.
So if you want confirmation of this story you don’t need to go looking for two, three, four, whatever number of Israeli “sources” for that; just ring up Vienna and ask to be put through to IAEA Director Amano.
There is no doubt that he can call up the video feed from Fordow with a sweep of his mouse and a click of a button.
For me, the proof is in the comparison/contrast google images. Google images for the Fordow facility and notice that the mountain and surrounding area above the facility blend in with the environment, detectable via a road and large building misc. Now notice the latest posted image and how visible from above it is because there is basically a white imprint of the detonation deep within the earth. Seems obvious to me that yes, it did indeed happen, and it was a very large blast.
Do you know why I think this is a bullshit story?
Because I have spent the last few hours skimming newspapers from all over the world on the internet and not one of them mentions it.
Someone has obviously made it up; to what purpose I haven’t the faintest idea.
Actually, the bullshit is in you & your comment because you missed the Times of London & Die Zeit which both used sources independent of mine to confirm the story. Those newspapers you skimmed from all over the world–you apparently missed two.
Nice try, but we know bullshit when we smell it & you stink.
Yes, the “report” from the Times of London emanates from Sheera Frenkel of Tel Aviv (I have never heard of Die Zeit and I doubt whether it’s an English publication so I wouldn’t be able to understand it anyway.)
I couldn’t find any creditable source for Sheera’s story so I don’t believe it; and neither have I seen the story published in any USA or UK paper.
Until I do, I shall remain unconvinced.
The Times of London IS a UK paper so you have seen the story published there contrary to your claim.
I dare you to offer any story Sheera has ever published that turned out to be wrong. If you can, you’ve reasonable cause to be skeptical. If you can’t (& I know you can’t) you’re an ass.
Time will tell, my friend – time will tell.
And I’d be only too happy to be proved wrong.
Richard, the people who read your blog and especially those who write comments actually make this blog legitimate so you better start using more appropriate attitude towards your readers…
@Itamar: When those particular readers treat me with respect they’ll be treated with respect. Your beef is with them, not me.
You are treated with respect. It’s your sources i – have no idea about others – doubt.
@Brian: Since you are one of those who is guilty of showing such disdain I’d say your judgment about who’s being disrespected is questionable.
So saying your source was wrong before makes me disrespectful ?
Are you looking for an open debate or for an open debate with those who agree with you ?
No, you’re being disingenuous. There are plenty of commenters who disagree with me here but manage to do so without invective, snark or the grandstanding rhetoric you & others use.
All I said was that this is a “bullshit story”. Go back and read it. Nothing against you personally whatsoever.
But you retorted that I “stink”. Later you called me an “ass”.
All I am is sceptical. I have every right to be so. Your “descriptions” of me personally were out of line on a public blog.
I don’t think this is a nice way for any blogger or writer to talk back to their readers.
I don’t think you are a very nice person. Someday, when you’re adult enough, you will learn to disagree without being disagreeable.
Until then, goodbye, Richard. You’ve lost me as a reader.
@Rom: So you think that telling a blogger that his story is “bullshit” is going to endear you to him? Make you think you respect him? You think that’s not “disagreeable?” In your mind you may’ve created a separation between your judgment of the story and your judgment of me and my work. But when you’re a blogger your story is a reflection on you. So harsh criticism of it is easy to take personally.
You also said you hadn’t read a UK paper that mentioned the story just after admitting you’d read a story in the Times of London. Perhaps that was just sloppiness on your part and not disrespect. Perhaps there were other commenters who were more guilty of the sins of which I was accusing you.
But I thought you were being prejudiced & close-minded, which I still think. In this case yr skepticism was warranted. But it was expressed in a thoroughly disagreeable way. As for being nice, sorry but that’s not the purpose of this blog.
You claim to have sources inside the Israeli intelligence community. Thats fine. But you don’t need them to tell you that you can’t call your story a “scoop”. Whether you like it or not, Reza Kahlili broke the story first. He may have different sources than you, but according to laws of journalism you can’t call your story a scoop as you were not the first to break it. You also don’t know if Kahlili has the same sources as you. He may do. This is why no oe has quoted you on this story. Its behavior like this why journalists stay away from you and no one in the Think Tank world or decision making world takes you seriously. A decent journalist would be loated to quote you as its this kind of behavior that gives you so little credibility.
Reza Khalili is a fraud and no reasonable person believes anything he says except possibly you. I’ve asked my source whether he had any contact with Reza Khalili (I would not have published this story if his information came in any way from Khalili) and he doesn’t even know who he is. So no, we don’t share sources. If you’d read my blog more carefully you’d that I don’t have direct sources within the Israeli intelligence community, though my source most likely does.
I was the first to offer an Israeli source to confirm this story. I was the first to provide the code name for the operation. I was the first to name the intelligence agencies and organizations behind it. Those are scoops where I come from.
I’ve been quoted and profiled in scores of mainstream publications. You appear not to even be aware of this which is sloppy on your part. I don’t need credibility from you. In fact, if you said anything positive I’d think something was very wrong. So thank you for your snark & prejudice. They only make me stronger.
I do personally do not give a damn, who did it. If it was Martians, Americans, Israelis, MEK(pure bastards cult) or any other entities or secret organisations. As long as the facility is damaged, that is fine. To add something, the dearly beloved Islamic Republic of Iran(Islamo-fascist), do not “give a toss” about 240 or 2400 persons trapped there. If the number of casualties are correct, they all landed near the 3rd Imam of Shiite Hussein, as the Master of Martyrdom. By the way I am pure Persian, and that is my sincere opinion.
‘Pure persian’ eh? but perhaps not human. I am not persian, but have persian relatives living in IR and anything like what is being described as possibly having occured, does not bode well for ordinary people in iran- of any political stripe- since it can only lead to more war-misery and destruction. Agreeing with Richard, there is no justification for such acts of subversion and terrorism-if such a thing has happened it is surely another act of war….the west led by the US and its closest buddies is in no position to lecture on civilisation, human rights and any form of freedom considering what they, hypocrites that they are, have been doing in the last few decades. on a scale much bigger than anything the current Iranian regime may have clocked up over the years. What the US/west has been doing has only progressively lowered the bar on [ bad] behaviour, so that anything goes- forget the rule of law….So, god help humanity with this free for all. And, any blood spilt [ if this incident is correct] is on the hands of those who may have committed the act in the first place- not the target and victims of the attack….Considering the pressure that iran has been under [ not because they have nasty mullahs in charge, but because they do not toe the line of the west against their own nation’s self interest and values] any major act of terrorism would have far reaching implications and the security of their nation would be paramount- you think?. All the reports i have read of popular opinion in Iran about the nuclear program [ which so far the IAEA has confirmed over and over, despite the most imaginative but vein attempts, has remained peaceful with no materials diverted to non peaceful purposes….] suggests that most iranians support their govt’s nuclear program as a matter of national pride. given the hostile envrionment or being encircled, you think a country might wish to safeguard its achievements in a secure facility? IS that not what other nations have done? I personally do not think nuclear tech even, is good or safe for any country and clean/safe alternatives should be invested in- however, it remains Iran’s right to such technology if everyone else has it- as per all the agreements and conventions it has signed up to. Supposing there has been an act of sabotage- i presume there will be radiation fall out and who will that impact on? the environment and people who live in that environment….So it does affect more people than the regime. I know that many people in iran would like changes /reforms etc and change comes whether people want it or not….nothing stands still, however, i am pretty sure that few persians want the kinds of changes being made possible, by the likes of the West/US etc as we have seen in the rest of the ME….ongoing violence, civil chaos, the national wealth being looted and divided up among the foreign predator nations and corporations, with local puppets in place….i don;t think that is the kind of change persians look forward to. I think people in Iran can fight their own internal battles and do not need outsiders to start the ball rolling by blowing up things for them.
Just a minor correction: the headline goes “Mysterious explosion in Iran”.
@Igor: Thanks for the correction.
“”The false news of an explosion at Fordo is Western propaganda ahead of nuclear negotiations to influence their process and outcome,” Saeed Shamseddin Bar Broudi, deputy of the AEOI, was quoted as saying by the state news agency, Irna.”
I’m dying to know what kind of “story” Press TV puts out about this.
This story in Haaretz (sorry I didn’t check whether it’s been quoted already) by Pfeiffer expresses some doubts in the course of events. Quotes a bit more from this character khalili at the end about Iran getting ready for “retaliation” against israel.
Not sure what to think about all this. If the story is indeed not being picked up far and wise, there has to be a reason for it. Newspapers are not independent like they used to be, so if there’s silence in the MSM, I look for reasons that are governmental rather than merely editorial. If the explosion happened – which by now would have to have been corroborated independently – what with all the snooping devices out there – and still the reports are scarce, what could the reason be for such scarcity? OTOH, if the explosion didn’t happen – or, if something did happen but on much smaller scale – then, as haaretz headline implies Cui Bene from planting this account?
the above are questions only. I have no answers (if I did, would I be here, speculating and querying?)
What do you make of the following quote which you used from Shira’s article:
“and refused to comment on reports that Israeli aircraft were seen near the facility at the time of the explosion.”
Now I haven’t read her entire article as I am not a subscriber but this quote can only suggest that Shira has more than one other source that saw/heard the explosion while seeing aircraft above and even recognizing their origin…
Sounds very fishy to me…
See my new post for my new judgment on this story.