A sensitive Iranian military site was the target of an attack

A drone strike this week targeted a highly sensitive military site outside Tehran where Iran is developing missile, nuclear and drone te...


A drone strike this week targeted a highly sensitive military site outside Tehran where Iran is developing missile, nuclear and drone technologies, according to three Iranians with knowledge of the attack and a US official.

Wednesday night’s strike hit the site of the Parchin military complex, about 60 km southeast of the capital, with quadcopter suicide drones, according to the Iranian sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly. The drones exploded in a building used by the Ministry of Defense for drone development research, killing a young engineer who worked at the ministry and injuring another person, they said.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility, but the attack was part of a pattern of past Israeli strikes against Iran and Lebanon in a covert campaign of hostility that has been going on for years. A statement from Iran’s Defense Ministry said it considered this an attack and not an accident.

Israeli officials declined to comment. A US official confirmed that suicide drones attacked Parchin, but did not say who was behind it or give further details.

Sunday, a few days before the Parchin strike, a colonel of the Revolutionary Guards was shot in Tehran, and Israel has told the United States that he was behind his assassination, according to an intelligence official. The Israelis wanted it as a warning to Iran to stop targeting Israeli citizens abroad, the official said.

Israel and Iran are increasingly pushing the boundaries of their long-running clandestine war, and the targeting of a drone research facility in Parchin follows a pattern of Israel trying to counter the growing drone capabilities of the ‘Iran.

In recent years, Iran has made steady progress in designing and producing drones and transferring drone technology and parts to proxy militias across the Middle East. Iranian drones have been deployed in numerous attacks against Israel, as well as in Saudi Arabiathe United Arab Emiratesin Yemen and, last October, an American base in Syriaaccording to intelligence officials.

Israel views the use of drones by its enemies, especially Iran, as a major threat to its security because drones can evade Israel’s advanced anti-missile systems like the Iron Dome. A senior Israeli military official said the country was investing significant resources to locate and destroy enemy drones.

At the beginning of February, Israel sent six quadcopter drones containing explosives to a facility near the city of Kermanshah that was Iran’s main manufacturing and storage facility for military drones, according to a senior intelligence official briefed on the operation.

This Israeli attack destroyed dozens of Iranian drones. Iran retaliated by firing ballistic missiles at a residential compound in northern Iraq which it said had been used by Israeli agents to plan attacks against Iran.

In June 2021, another attack using a quadcopter drone – which explodes on impact – was also launched from inside the country. It hit the Iran Centrifuge Technology Company, or TESA, in the city of Karaj. TESA is one of Iran’s main manufacturing centers for the production of the advanced centrifuges used in the country’s two nuclear facilities, Natanz and Fardow.

Amid long-standing suspicions that its nuclear program is aimed at producing weapons, Iran has insisted it is intended for peaceful purposes only. The United Nations watchdog said it had found no evidence that Iran was developing nuclear weapons.

Wednesday’s drone attack was launched from inside Iran, not far from the Parchin military base, according to Iranian sources with knowledge of the attack. Quadcopter drones have a short flight range and Parchin is far from Iranian borders.

It would not be the first time that Israel has used agents inside Iran to carry out attacks.

A statement from Iran’s Defense Ministry on Thursday used the word “incident” instead of “accident” to describe what happened at Parchin and called the dead engineer a “martyr”, a clear indication that his death was considered the result of enemy action. The statement said one of the Ministry of Defense research units in the Parchin area was hit.

Several well-known social media accounts affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, including that of military analyst Hossein Dalirian, also posted that the engineer was a “martyr”.

The editor-in-chief of Iran’s conservative Tabnnak news site, Mostafa Najafi, said in a Twitter post on Thursday that he later deleted: “Israel attacked a Ministry of Defense facility with some suicide quadcopter drones.”

The Parchin military installation has for years attracted international attention.

In 2011, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, said some countries suspected Iran had experimented with developing nuclear weapons at Parchin. Agency inspectors gained access to the site in 2015.

Photographs that Israeli officials say were stolen from Iranian nuclear archives in 2018 appear to show a giant metal chamber in a building at the Parchin military site that was built to conduct high-explosive experiments, needed to assemble a nuclear warhead.

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.

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Newsrust - US Top News: A sensitive Iranian military site was the target of an attack
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