KEY POINTS

  • The blast damaged 90% of the centrifuges at the nuclear plant
  • The report said the scientists responsible were then whisked away to safety 
  • Explosives were both dropped by drone and smuggled in via food containers

Israeli agents duped a team of Iranian nuclear scientists into blowing up one of the most secure and important nuclear facilities at Natanz in Iran, said a report.

As many as 10 scientists agreed to destroy the underground A1000 centrifuge hall believing that they were working for international dissident groups, said a report by London-based The Jewish Chronicle. 

International Business Times could not independently verify the claims.

The blast at Natanz happened in April, wherein a large explosion destroyed the heavily-protected internal power system that supplies the underground centrifuges that enrich uranium. Though Iran had called it "an act of sabotage carried out by Israel," the latter did not confirm or deny the allegations. 

The Jewish Chronicle report said that some of the explosives were dropped into the compound by a drone and then collected by the scientists, while others were smuggled in food boxes on a catering lorry.

The blast damaged 90% of the centrifuges at the nuclear plant delayed progress towards a bomb. The complex was also out of function for the next nine months.

At the time of the operation, nuclear negotiations with the West were underway in Vienna. The bombs were remotely set off hours after Iran declared that it had begun to use advanced IR-5 and IR-6 centrifuges at the site, which was a breach of the 2015 Nuclear deal. 

The blast destroyed the independent and highly secure internal power system that supplied the centrifuges, causing a power blackout. 

"The scientists’ motivations were all different. Mossad found out what they deeply wanted in their lives and offered it to them. There was an inner circle of scientists who knew more about the operation, and an outer circle who helped out but had less information," Jewish Chronicle quoted an unnamed source.

The scientists responsible were whisked off to safety, and all of them are very safe today, said the report.

This was also the second of a three-part Mossad operation targeting Iran’s ‘fissile material project.' The first was in July 2020 with a mysterious explosion inside the Iran Centre for Advanced Centrifuges.

Interestingly, preparation for that began a year earlier when Israeli spies posing as construction wholesalers sold Iranian officials building materials to be used in the centrifuge hall. The materials had been filled with Mossad explosives and remained in place all year. Israel "pushed the button" when the time was right, the report added.

The third and final attack came this June when an armed quadcopter drone, weighing the same as a motorcycle, was smuggled into the country piece by piece by agents. The TESA complex in Karaj, the most important factory to build the centrifuges.

The drone was launched on June 23 from a location 10 miles away from the TESA factory. It flew it towards the facility and fired, partly destroying it. The drone was then piloted back and taken away. 

The Natanz facility is one of Iran's main uranium enrichment plants The Natanz facility is one of Iran's main uranium enrichment plants Photo: Iran Atomic Organization (aeoinews) / Handout