The disclosure is significant. To start, it is the first piece of evidence to suggest opponents of the Iranian program are targeting the country’s electrical grid and doing so on the ground. The U.S. military has studied Iran’s infrastructure closely. In 2009, a research lab attached to the U.S. joint staff and combatant commands known as the Joint Warfare Analysis Center discovered a weakness in Iran’s electrical grids that at the time would make it vulnerable to a cyberattack.
The attack described by Abbasi suggests, however, a physical explosion as opposed to a cyberattack. He specifically said the power lines from Qom to the Shahid Ali Mohammadi complex at Fordow “were cut using explosives.” In this case, special-operations forces on the ground in Iran would carry out such an attack, as opposed to cyberwarriors half a world away.
A retired U.S. intelligence officer who still works as a contractor with the U.S. military on operations with regard to Iran told The Daily Beast that U.S. Special Forces have trained for sabotage missions inside Iran for years. “From the first reports, this attack looks like something from our guys,” this source said. This former official also said U.S. Special Forces conducted a series of targeted attacks on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in late 2011 as the U.S. military was exiting Iraq. That stealth offensive is widely credited with stopping Iran from attacking U.S. forces as they left Iraq.
If the United States conducted the sabotage of Iran’s power lines, it may help ease concerns from Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.