Day after Erbil strike, Iran claims to have foiled Israeli sabotage at its Fordow nuclear facility 

Reports in Middle East Eye as well as some US media outlets claimed that Israel has been operating anti-Iranian bases in Iraqi Kurdistan and was responsible for the attack on Iran’s drone facility in Tabriz a few weeks back

March 16, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Iranian Fordow nuclear site
The entrance to the Fordow nuclear site in Iran. (Photo: Press TV)

Iran claimed on Monday, March 14, that it had foiled an Israeli plan to sabotage one of its nuclear plants at Fordow in Tabriz. It also claimed to have arrested members of a network operated by Israeli secret service agency Mossad. This was a day after Iran fired missiles at several locations in Erbil, Iraq, and said that it destroyed a Mossad base there.

According to Iran’s official news agency IRNA, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) captured members of an Israeli network in the country that was planning to sabotage the plant. The sabotage was planned to be executed before the end of the Iranian new year festivities (Nowruz) on March 20. IRGC and its newly formed Nuclear Command Center claimed the network was operated by Mossad. 

Fordow, located near the Iranian city of Qom, is an underground nuclear facility. Israel has always opposed the Iranian nuclear program and has been accused of several sabotage attempts in the past.

Middle East Eye published a report on Monday claiming that Iranian and Iraqi officials have confirmed that the attacks on Erbil were carried out in response to the Israeli attack on an Iranian drone facility in Tabriz a few weeks ago. The report claimed that the attack was launched from the Iraqi Kurdistan region. Similar reports have emerged in some US media outlets. 

According to unnamed officials cited by Middle East Eye, reports linking the Iranian strikes to the process of government formation in Iraq were completely off the mark. It was reported in Iraqi media that Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the largest political block in the Iraqi parliament, has agreed to form a government in alliance with Kurdish parties following months of negotiations since the elections in October last year.    

IRGC had claimed responsibility for firing ballistic missiles in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s autonomous region of Kurdistan, on Sunday. It said that the attacks targeted Israeli facilities in the city and were in response to the attacks in Syria last week which had killed two of its officials. 

Erbil’s governor denied Israeli presence in the city. However, prime minister of Kurdistan Masrour Barzani and Muqtada al-Sadr jointly agreed to form a committee to examine the Iranian claims. 

On Monday, the Iranian ambassador to Iraq, Iraj Masjedi, reiterated his country’s position on the Israeli presence in Iraq. He said that Sunday’s attacks were necessary steps to prevent operations against Iranian security. He claimed that the attacks were not intended to violate Iraq’s sovereignty and demanded the country to force “Israelis out of Iraqi soil and get rid of them.”