The top-secret Iranian military base of Parchin was hit by a military strike using quadcopter drones. The strike was believed to have targeted Iran’s drone development and research complex, not its missile and nuclear research facilities.
Although no nation claims responsibility for the attack itself, Iran and the U.S. both claim that it follows the pattern of previous attacks by Israel.
This attack comes after the assassination last week of a colonel from the Revolutionary Guards. Analysts believe that the Israelis meant it to warn Iran not to target Israeli citizens abroad.
In 2014 and 2007, Parchin was attacked again. These were believed to be Israeli agents who started the fires and explosions. Iran has made steady progress in the design, production and transfer of drone technology to proxy militias throughout the Middle East. According to intelligence officials, Iranian drones were used in multiple attacks on Israel as well as in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. They also deployed in Yemen and at a U.S. military base in Syria last October.
Israel regards the Iranian use of drones as a threat to its security, particularly because they can bypass Israel’s advanced antimissile system like the Iron Dome. According to a senior Israeli military officer, the country is investing substantial resources in finding and destroying enemy drones.
Israel has been trying to stop Iranian drone technology development. A drone attack on a drone plant in Kermanshah was carried out by drones in February. According to U.S intelligence, it was Iran’s main manufacturing facility and storage site for military drones.
Another quadcopter drone crashed into the centrifuge manufacturing plant last June. This facility was producing advanced centrifuges that can spin up nuclear fuel. Iran announced that it will enrich uranium to 60%. Iran could produce bomb-grade uranium at 90% in a matter hours. Iran would need to create 60% fuel to reach this level.
It is significant that the drone attack against Parchin was launched from Iran.
According to Iranian sources, the drone attack was launched from Iran on Wednesday, just a few kilometers from Parchin’s military base. The flight range of quadcopter drones is very short, and Parchin lies far from Iran’s borders.
It was not the first time Israel used Iranian operatives to execute attacks.
Iran’s Ministry of Defense issued a statement on Thursday that used the term “incident” rather than “accident” in order to describe the events at Parchin. It also called the engineer who died a martyr, indicating that the death was likely due to enemy action. According to the statement, one of the Defense Ministry’s research units in Parchin was attacked.
Israel continues to be in a shadow war with Iran. Both sides don’t want to admit that they are at war with one another, but all that is missing is a Knesset election. Israel’s unsettling political situation may have something to do Jerusalem’s restraint. But eventually, one or the other side will go too far, and war will start.