Israel Presented U.S. With Location of Iranian Factory Targeted in Foiled Strike, Report Says

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Centrifuge machines at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, in Iran, in April.
Centrifuge machines at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, in Iran, in April. Credit: ,AP

An Iranian factory targeted in a drone attack Tuesday night, which the Islamic Republic says it thwarted, was on the list of targets that the Israeli government gave to the United States last year, the New York Times reported Thursday.

The factory, which is located near the city of Karaj, produces aluminum blades for centrifuges to be used in the country's two nuclear facilities, Channel 13 News and the Times said. According to an Iranian source familiar with the attack, the drone that carried it out seemed to have taken off from a nearby location within Iran and hit the building. Israel has not commented on the attack.

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Iranian state TV said an attempted attack against a building belonging to Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization in Karaj “left no casualties or damages and was unable to disrupt the Iranian nuclear program.” Despite these claims, it is still unknown whether the strike harmed the building.

According to the Times report, in early 2020, Israel gave a list to then-U.S. President Donald Trump and senior government officials – including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and CIA director Gina Haspel – identifying potential targets within Iran in order to halt the country's nuclear program. An intelligence official said that the Trump administration had signed off on the campaign against Iran's nuclear sites.  

Senior intelligence officials said that those targets included the Natanz uranium enrichment site and prominent nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

The latter was assassinated in a remote-controlled machine gun attack while driving in a bulletproof vehicle in December, Iran claimed. The strike was attributed to Israel.

In April, an explosion hit the Natanz nuclear plant, which the Times had then reported was caused by a device that was smuggled into the plant and detonated remotely. The blast was also blamed on Israel. According to the report, the Natanz attack took at least hundreds of centrifuges out of commission, and the factory targeted this week was manufacturing replacements.

Iran has accused Israel of several attacks on facilities linked to its nuclear program and killing its nuclear scientists over the past years. Israel has neither denied nor confirmed the allegations. 

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