Western intelligence sources have uncovered an Israeli intelligence mission’s effort to spy on Iran in a bid to find “smoking gun” evidence that the Islamic republic was building a nuclear warhead, according to a report on Sunday.
Israel is using a permanent base in northern Iraq to launch its missions, which have been conducted on Iran for several years, The Sunday Times reported.
But in recent months, the Israeli spy operations have intensified. Their spy teams are using “sensitive equipment … to monitor the radioactivity and magnitude of explosives tests” being carried out at the Parchin military complex near Tehran, the newspaper reported.
Iran had previously denied access to the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), when it requested entry into Parchin during a recent investigation into its nuclear abilities.
“We’ve detected clean-up efforts recently in Parchin which might indicate that the Iranians are trying to hide evidence of warhead tests in preparation for a possible IAEA visit,” a “western source” told the newspaper.
The IAEA has previously voiced suspicions that a military nuclear capability is being developed at Parchin, while Iran has maintained its nuclear program is peaceful, and will only be used for civilian purposes.
“Israeli special forces are using Black Hawk helicopters to carry commandos disguised as members of the Iranian military and using Iranian military vehicles,” according to the report, citing Western sources.
“The Black Hawks can carry about 10 commandos in full gear and two pilots about 500 miles without refueling,” it added.
According to the sources, operations are also aimed at Fordow near the city of Qom where Iran says it is working on high-level enrichment. Although Tehran insists it is intended for peaceful purposes, the process could lead to military-grade purification.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly passed on new evidence to U.S. President Barack Obama about the Iranian nuclear program, some of which was a result of cross-border operations, the newspaper stated.
Cross-border operations by the Israelis in the past have been the precursor to a military strike, The Sunday Times noted.
“In September 2007 Israeli jets attacked a secret Syrian nuclear reactor built with the help of North Korean experts and financed by the Iranians.
“A short time before the attack, a group of Israeli soldiers carried out a cross-border intelligence operation to collect evidence of radioactivity.” it stated.
Iran’s nuclear program is reported to have three components: uranium enrichment, the Shahab-3 missile and weaponization – to fit the bomb and detonator to the missile. The program began 20 years ago but was stalled in 2003 after the U.S. invasion of Iraq “for fear of being the next in line,” the newspaper noted.
But in 2007, the program was reportedly being continued by Tehran.
“While the weaponization stopped, building ballistic missiles and the enrichment process continued,” the Western source told the newspaper.
(Written by Eman El-Shenawi)