Blinken, Netanyahu To Discuss Stopping Iran’s Nukes in Wake of Drone Attack on Munitions Plant
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken boards his plane at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv after his two-day trip to Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian territories, May 26, 2021. (Matty Stern/US Embassy Jerusalem)

Blinken, Netanyahu To Discuss Stopping Iran’s Nukes in Wake of Drone Attack on Munitions Plant

Israel is suspected of being behind what Iran calls a failed attack on the military installation in the center of the country, as the US secretary of state arrives for meetings

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives in Israel on Monday for a series of meetings with Israeli officials, including one with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Among the issues that will be discussed is the nearly non-existent nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers.

The visit comes a day after Iran announced that a mysterious drone attack targeted an weapons factory in the central Iranian city of Isfahan.

Iranian officials claimed on Sunday the attack was a failed one, saying that two drones had been shot down and another had inflicted only minor damage to the factory’s roof.

“There was an unsuccessful attack by small drones against a defense ministry industrial complex and, fortunately, with predictions and air defense arrangements already in place, one of them [struck],” Iran’s national news agency said in a post on Twitter.

“The air defense system of the complex was able to destroy two other drones. Fortunately, this unsuccessful attack killed no one and minor damage was sustained to the roof of the complex,” according to the post.

Mohammad Marandi, an adviser to the Iranian negotiating team in Vienna, told The Media Line that the attack did not accomplish its goals.

“The drone strike was a failure, but Iran will definitely retaliate beyond its borders in order to deter the Israeli regime and its proxies in northern Iraq from further aggression,” he said.

There was no immediate confirmation about who was behind the attack, but many say it carries the hallmarks of an Israeli strike similar to previous ones in past years that have been attributed to Israel.

Alex Grinberg, a former Israeli military intelligence officer and an expert on Iran at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, told The Media Line that despite staying quiet, Israel remains committed to stopping the Islamic Republic’s military programs.

“Israel will continue do everything to stop or at least to hamper the Iranian nuclear program, its drone program and ballistic missiles program no matter what happens,” he said.

“I don’t know whether it was Israel, it’s possible but we have no proof that it was. But it [Israel] has the capacity to strike strategic Iranian facilities installations, so it’s not going to put an end to the Iranian ballistic or drone program but what it does creates problems for Iran,” Grinberg also said.

The attack comes at a deeply sensitive time for Iran, as reports of antigovernment demonstrations continue to circulate despite official denial.

Nationwide demonstrations have shaken the country since the September death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian woman, while in the custody of the country’s morality police for allegedly wearing her hijab incorrectly.

Marandi insists that “there are no demonstrations.”

Talks to revive the nuclear deal with the US administration, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), have stalled as the Iran’s nuclear program inches closer to the production of weapons-grade levels.

“There is a big gap between the people and the government in Iran. In the past, Israel feared the anger of the Iranian people, but it is clear now that the Iranians hate their government and do not see these attacks as an insult to them as they are an insult to the regime,” according to Grinberg.

The Wall Street Journal cited unnamed US officials as saying that attack was carried out as Blinken was about to hold meetings with Netanyahu on new ways to counter Tehran’s nuclear program. Blinken is scheduled to arrive in Israel from Egypt on Monday afternoon.

“The text of the deal to restart the JCPOA has been ready for months. We must see if the US has the political will to take the final step,” Marandi said.

Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said no US military forces were involved in strikes on Iran but declined to comment further.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has made stopping the signing of a nuclear agreement the center of his agenda. He also has vowed to prevent Iran from reaching nuclear weapons capability.

“Netanyahu’s position on the nuclear deal isn’t important to Iran. He and his allies are weakening the Israeli regime and that’s what’s important,” Marandi said.



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