The New York Times reported that three Iranian and one American official confirmed that a loitering munition was used against the Parchin Nuclear Research Center in Northern Iran.
The sources, according to the New York Times, said that a quadcopter drone laden with explosives must have been launched within visual range of the site, alluding to Israelis agents or recruited Iranians to carry out the strike. The Iranian Defense Ministry confirmed that Eshan Qadbeghi, an engineer, was killed in the blast and another unnamed person was injured.
In 2005, the International Atomic Enforcement Agency visited the site to corroborate suspicions that the site housed a nuclear weapons facility. The results of the inspection were inconclusive due to agents not allowed to visit the entire site. The exile group The National Council of Resistance of Iran has claimed that Iran constructed a sophisticated underground tunnel system at Parchin, where weaponization work continues.
In the midst of failing negotiations between the United States and Iran on the Islamic Republic’s pursuit of a civilian and military nuclear program, the Israeli government has said multiple times that they will take any steps necessary to ensure the safety of Israel. American intelligence analysis predict that Iran will be able to enrich nuclear material to 90%, or weapons grade levels, by June, if they can’t already. This is not the first time that suspected Israeli strikes have hit military bases in Iran.
Last February, a reported Israeli UAV attack caused major damage to Iran’s drone fleet near the city of Kermanshah, prompting Iran to fire missiles at a site in Iraq that it claims was an Israeli intelligence base, located extremely close to the US consulate in Erbil.
Last June, an alleged Israeli drone struck the Iran Centrifuge Technology Company, or TESA, facility in the city of Karaj that is used to assemble centrifuges for uranium enrichment at the Natanz and Fordow nuclear sites.