The German right-wing news site, Die Welt, published a report based on a “Western intelligence source” claiming that Iran sold Hezbollah several hundred tons of ammonium nitrate in 2013. The report explicitly says that there is no known connection between this shipment and the nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate that blew up in the Beirut port destroying half the city.
If so, what is the point? Why leak this claim and why publish it? And who would leak such information? The answer is Israel: if Israel attacked a Hezbollah arms depot and (inadvertently) initiated the subsequent ammonium nitrate explosion, then it fears its role will be exposed eventually (as it has here). Anticipating this, the Mossad (the agency whose fingerprints appear to be all over this disastrous sabotage operation) needs to spin a narrative that will both distract blame and pin it elsewhere. What better way to do this than to blame Hezbollah and Iran for the disaster?
The other benefit of this story is that it associates in peoples’ mind ammonium nitrate, Iran and Hezbollah. This would be useful at a later date should Israel need to deflect blame from itself.
What is ludicrous about this effort is that even the source that leaked this story explicitly says the Iranian shipment had nothing to do with the Beirut explosion.
Israeli sources appear also to be laying the groundwork for justifying the attack on the Hezbollah weapons facility via this story reported by Israeli TV news:
A Western security expert also told Die Welt Hezbollah may have sought ammonium nitrate for attacks against Israel, noting that the organization was working at the time on digging numerous attack tunnels into Israel, and positing it planned to employ the explosives for attacks using those tunnels.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.