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Jeff

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Someone's screwing around with them.

 

Iran’s nuclear facilities are mysteriously under attack
Iran's nuclear facilities have been under attack for weeks, but it's still unclear by whom

By Hollie McKay | Fox News

 

Black smoke rose as flames engulfed the Shahid Tondgooyan petrochemical plant in the Khuzestan province of Iran late Sunday afternoon.

Hours earlier, more than 500 miles away, detonations rocked the basement of an old, nondescript home in a northern pocket of Tehran. The two-story dwelling was said to have housed at least 30 gas cylinders that were used for unclear purposes.

 

Both incidents came fewer than two days after a string of explosions – and power outages – were reported west of Tehran in the early hours of Friday. Local reports indicated that multiple “mortar-like sounds similar to anti-aircraft missiles” were heard.

 

The blasts reportedly took place at an Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) missile depot.

 

While some Iranian officials denied the outbursts altogether, and others quoted a former mayor – who reportedly died more than a year ago – as saying it was caused by gas tanks, experts said there is something bizarre at play across the beleaguered country.

 

These most recent attacks happened on the heels of multiple other mysterious explosions at sensitive sites over the course of the last three weeks – and no one is precisely sure what is going on, other than its rattling of the regime and stymying its controversial nuclear program.

"The tempo and tenor of the recent explosions in Iran have been unusual. There is evidence of a concerted campaign underway to thwart Iran's nuclear program," Jason Brodsky, Policy Director of United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), told Fox News. "The more Iran advances its nuclear program in violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the greater the likelihood for additional strikes."

He continued: "Additionally, Tehran is distracted by the coronavirus and economic problems. The public is increasingly disenchanted with the regime's ability to govern the country. The conditions are ripe for additional kinetic activity."

 

The first enigmatic hit happened on June 26 at a known liquid fuel production center that makes ballistic missiles in Khojir, near Parchin, southeast of the capital. Despite a downplaying by officials, satellite images later emerged to show extensive damage on an arsenal of gas tanks, along with an entire hillside blackened in the blast.

 

Then on June 30, 19 people died following an explosion at a medical center in Tehran.

 

Two days later, on July 2, the notorious Natanz uranium enrichment plant – which became active in 2018 as Iran's principal place to develop centrifuges required to produce uranium and other nuclear weapons were in-development – was struck by a mammoth blast, as confirmed by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).

 

Tehran conceded that a severe attack had impaired an "industrial shed," and AEOI officials acknowledged to the Iranian media that the blow had "set back Iran's nuclear program by months."

 

According to an analysis by the Kuwait-based publication Al-Jarida, the target of the assault was the UF6 gas – uranium hexafluoride – which Iran uses to infuse into its most advanced IR-6 centrifuges – of which 80 percent has been decimated as a result of the attack.

 

Then, on July 3, an unexplained fire erupted at a power plant in the southwest city of Shiraz, triggering a power outage in the region.

 

The next day, yet another explosion and inferno tore through a power plant in Ahwaz, while at the same time, a chlorine gas leak was detected at a Karoun petrochemical plant in Mahshahr, about 75 miles away.

 

"While one can never ignore the potential for an accident or gross incompetence, the locations of these explosions coupled with the increasing number of things exploding in the last few weeks does make a strong case for this being foreign sabotage," underscored Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD). "Let's not forget, they are all occurring on or near, nuclear, missile, or military installations."

 

Nonetheless, a swirl of suspicion continues to linger around the series of seemingly harmonized attacks, with many suspecting Israel – and the United States – as pulling strings.

 

But adding to the peculiarity, BBC Persian reported that just after midnight on June 30, some of its journalists received an email from a group purporting to be the "Homeland Cheetahs" – comprised of anti-government, underground dissidents – claiming credit for earlier attacks. The outlet also said they were informed of the Natanz attack hours before it was documented by officials.

 

Several intelligence sources told Fox News that they had never heard of the outfit prior to the BBC's report, and suspected it to be a ruse or a front for a much more sophisticated operation.

 

While almost all experts conclude that the attacks that have occurred are physical, some say cyber warfare may additionally play a part – especially given that Natanz was targeted by the infamous Stuxnet malware kindled by Israel and the U.S. in 2010. That attack successfully crippled controls at the site by altering the spin cycles of the centrifuges and left scientists scratching their heads.

 

"Although many are asking the question, was this a cyber-attack or physical sabotage, the answer could be 'both.' The most likely suspects are the U.S. and Israel working in tandem. Both countries have very sophisticated cyber warfare units and significant capabilities when it comes to cyber-kinetic attacks," explained David Kennedy, CEO of TrustedSec and a former NSA and Marine Corps cyber-intelligence expert. "An attack of this magnitude would require a great deal of planning and preparation, and is very complex because you are exploiting industrial control systems and air-gapped devices."

 

Jeff Bardin, CIO of security firm Treadstone 71, concurred that their assessment "indicates this was a physical attack likely with cyber used for reconnaissance and support."

 

"The explosion was far beyond what is believed cyber sabotage could have created," he said. "If Iran complains too loudly that adversaries destroyed their nuclear weapons development, the IAEA and the world will want a local inspection – Iran has claimed they are not creating nuclear weapons. If they complain too loudly, we can confirm those locations for nuclear weapons development. If Iranian authorities claim adversary actions occurred, internally, they look weak, where they already suffer a lack of confidence. If they openly respond, they risk more attacks."

 

Experts have also pointed to the glaring holes in Tehran's intelligence apparatus – essentially allowing its country's most guarded sites to be slaughtered with convention weapons, with little means of foiling it or fighting back.

"Tehran has not yet retaliated for the Natanz explosion. (But) I would expect to see an uptick in Iranian cyber operations against the U.S., Israel, and our Mideast allies like Saudi Arabia, but I don't expect a serious conflagration," Kennedy surmised. "The Iranians have suffered a major setback to their nuclear program and their domestic security. They've been badly embarrassed. And the truth is, they may not know the full extent of what happened in that attack. They also don't know what else is coming."

 

 

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Could just as easily be doing it all themselves against a wholly moribund nuclear program, to distract the population from the Governments wholly inept handling of Covid19. I dont see a cyber attack as likely to create all this kind of horror, the last one that attacked the centrifuges (which I think was judged at the time to be likely israel) did trivial damage compared to this.

 

Blaming it on internal forces? Ideal I would have thought, then they can arrest anyone they like and claim they are Israeli saboteurs or stripper ninja's or something.

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Could just as easily be doing it all themselves against a wholly moribund nuclear program, to distract the population from the Governments wholly inept handling of Covid19. I dont see a cyber attack as likely to create all this kind of horror, the last one that attacked the centrifuges (which I think was judged at the time to be likely israel) did trivial damage compared to this.

 

Blaming it on internal forces? Ideal I would have thought, then they can arrest anyone they like and claim they are Israeli saboteurs or stripper ninja's or something.

 

Centrifuges are finicky machines, Pakistan lost its cascade twice due to earthquakes, so they may die from "natural" causes. Multiple accidents could also be a coincidence and not all facilities need to be devoted to nefarious things, and in fact be related to COVID-19 by short handing the facilities.

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I think it may be delayed Saudi payback. If they dismembered Khashoggi for causing Saudi loss of face, imagine how much they would pay for someone to do Iran.

 

The KSA is completely incapable of anything of this sophistication.

 

This is probably Israel, or maybe the US and Israel. What I found interesting is that the article seemed to assume that some of these attacks are physical - which indicates a bombing. The Iranians have not posted anything to that effect which is interesting, but it is true that I can't imagine some of the damage that has occurred being done purely by a cyber attack. Centrifuges spin at supersonic speeds and could easily cause a mess, but one fire was a fuel tank and another was a medical clinic. It is possible that one or two industrial accidents are mixed in and muddying the waters of what appears to be a generalized campaign against Iranian infrastructure, not just their nuclear program. If one of their refineries catches fire we will know that it is a general attack against anything that can be kinetically hacked.

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It is also possible that whatever is doing this is automated and went rogue. STUXNET was discovered when it went outside of its normal parameters - it was always supposed to be inactive unless it found a very specific Siemens Process Controller. The medical clinic in particular sounds like either an unrelated accident or a cyber weapon that is drawing outside the lines of its original mission.

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Could just as easily be doing it all themselves against a wholly moribund nuclear program, to distract the population from the Governments wholly inept handling of Covid19. I dont see a cyber attack as likely to create all this kind of horror, the last one that attacked the centrifuges (which I think was judged at the time to be likely israel) did trivial damage compared to this.

 

Blaming it on internal forces? Ideal I would have thought, then they can arrest anyone they like and claim they are Israeli saboteurs or stripper ninja's or something.

 

Centrifuges are finicky machines, Pakistan lost its cascade twice due to earthquakes, so they may die from "natural" causes. Multiple accidents could also be a coincidence and not all facilities need to be devoted to nefarious things, and in fact be related to COVID-19 by short handing the facilities.

Well incompetence explains a lot of course. These are after all the same nation that contrived to blow a regularly scheduled airliner out the sky.

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Being very familiar with industrial controls if they are built and run correctly the built in safety controls would prevent catastrophic damage even with a rouge STUXNET. My money is on human error rather than overt action on the part of Red Sea Pedestrians.

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My friend Thad posted some interesting thoughts:

"A few points.
- if you were running this you might want to blow up some extra shit to give yourself cover. not a terrible idea.
- Iran has serious infrastructure problems in general. could be that the civvie blowups are unrelated and just convenient
- don't discount the possibility that locals might have something to do with it. the 'homeland cheetahs' sounds like a group of strippers who work bachelor's parties. there _are_ real dissident groups in Iran and they may be running operations, maybe even lightly coordinated, with the US/IL intel services
- the overreach here sounds more like Abu's minions are running the show. normally I'd say IL would be leading the US into this, this time it might be the opposite"

 

 

I personally thought "Homeland Cheetahs" sounded more like a little league team. Also in this context, "Abu" is Abu Ivanka.

Edited by Josh
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Being very familiar with industrial controls if they are built and run correctly the built in safety controls would prevent catastrophic damage even with a rouge STUXNET. My money is on human error rather than overt action on the part of Red Sea Pedestrians.

 

It seems like quite a lot of human error in two weeks. It might not be process controller related - it could be outright air delivered ordnance for all we know - but it seems like way to many different sites inside a small time period to be solely accidents.

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Being very familiar with industrial controls if they are built and run correctly the built in safety controls would prevent catastrophic damage even with a rouge STUXNET. My money is on human error rather than overt action on the part of Red Sea Pedestrians.

 

Yes, but those controls are the end results of years of experience, which the Iranians may still be acquiring in their nuclear program. They have learned that their computers need to be isolated with stuxnet, but they got their centrifuge technology from Pakistan, who got it from Germany, who leveraged developments in the Soviet Union in the 50s, so there may be a safety or 20 not included...

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Being very familiar with industrial controls if they are built and run correctly the built in safety controls would prevent catastrophic damage even with a rouge STUXNET. My money is on human error rather than overt action on the part of Red Sea Pedestrians.

It seems like quite a lot of human error in two weeks. It might not be process controller related - it could be outright air delivered ordnance for all we know - but it seems like way to many different sites inside a small time period to be solely accidents.

Unless it's all due to startup accidents. Start up and shutdowns are when the majority of industrial accidents happen. Given that they were probably shutdown due to Covid and that Iran might be forcing the workers to work when they do want to be at work or should not be at work. Management would also be under pressure to get thing moving so safety is overlooked.

If it was air dropped ordnance they would be showing evidence 24hrs a day as a bomb crater is a lot different from a industrial accident.

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Being very familiar with industrial controls if they are built and run correctly the built in safety controls would prevent catastrophic damage even with a rouge STUXNET. My money is on human error rather than overt action on the part of Red Sea Pedestrians.

 

It seems like quite a lot of human error in two weeks. It might not be process controller related - it could be outright air delivered ordnance for all we know - but it seems like way to many different sites inside a small time period to be solely accidents.

 

 

Indeed, if it's bad luck, it's a heck of a big string of bad luck in a bunch of different areas. The bad luck might be getting a nudge.

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The fact that Iran is remaining silent points to the culprit not being the US or Israel but rather home grown or a country which they would not want to give the credit of being able to do such attacks.

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Or it indicates that they aren't in a position to retaliate for said attacks and would rather not name names and look weak.

 

They made plenty of noise and thunder when the IRGC general was topped, and they actually fired missiles at US bases, so they are not coy about throwing their weight around, until they shot down the Ukranian airliner. If they are silent, it's incompetence, not the evil Joos.

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Hope they got some of the scientists and engineers.

 

The genie is out of the bottle and has been for some time, killing a handful of technicians won't change that.

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That would represent a quarter to a third of the population, if true. Honestly I doubt they have enough testing to know the number; even the first world struggles to define the exact infection rate.

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Quote

Date 14.11.2020

Al-Qaida's No.2 secretly killed in Iran: US report

The man the US believes was behind the 1998 attacks on its embassies in Tanzania and Kenya was shot and killed in Tehran earlier this year, according to the New York Times. Iran has rejected the report.

Al-Qaida's second-in-command, accused by the United States of masterminding the 1998 bombings of its embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, was secretly killed in Iran in August, the New York Times reported Friday, citing intelligence officials.

Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, who was one of the FBI's ten most wanted fugitives, was gunned down in Tehran by two Israeli operatives on a motorcycle at the behest of the US, according to the newspaper.

The al-Qaida number two, who was also known as Abu Muhammad al-Masri, was killed along with his daughter, the widow of Osama bin Laden's son Hamza bin Laden.

Abdullah had been in Iran’s “custody” since 2003 but had been living freely in an upscale suburb of Tehran since 2015, the
paper reported. 

It added that despite Iran and al-Qaida being longtime foes, US counterterrorism officials believe Tehran may have let him live there to conduct operations against US targets.

Iran refutes claims

On Saturday, however, Iran responded to the report by saying it was based on "made-up information" and denied the presence of any al-Qaida members in the country.

Iran's foreign ministry said the US and Israel "try to shift the responsibility for the criminal acts of (al-Qaida) and other terrorist groups in the region and link Iran to such groups with lies and by leaking made-up information to the media," spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement.

[...]

https://www.dw.com/en/al-qaidas-no2-secretly-killed-in-iran-us-report/a-55599213

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