Reports are emerging that something exploded last night above the Iranian city of Badroud, near the Natanz nuclear site, where Iran performs some of its uranium enrichment. What exactly caused the blast isn’t exactly clear yet, but suspicions immediately turned to Israel. The Israeli Deputy Defense Minister, Alon Schuster, was asked about it today during a press conference. His answers were somewhat vague, so that didn’t provide a lot of help in solving the mystery, though he did seem to imply that Israel was aware that “something” had happened. But there are conflicting statements and stories coming from both sides at the moment, so this may take some time to sort out. It was, however, rather interesting that Schuster seemed to deflect the question by saying “we don’t ask a man what he did at night.” (Times of Israel)
Deputy Defense Minister Alon Schuster on Sunday refrained from directly answering questions about a blast in the vicinity of an Iranian nuclear site a day earlier, only saying he “can’t say” what hit Natanz.
When asked what Israel had to say about the explosion on Saturday near the Natanz site, Schuster said: “We don’t ask a man what he did at night, but we are currently trying to bring about a change in the motivations of the whole world through diplomatic means.”
“Iran is a problem for the whole world, and not just the State of Israel alone,” the Blue and White lawmaker told Radio 103FM when asked about potential Israeli involvement in the explosion.
Reporters tried to press Schuster further with follow-up questions, but he remained vague. “What hit Natanz? I can’t say.”
The phrase ‘I can’t say’ could mean a couple of things. It could imply that he doesn’t know or that he does but he literally can’t tell them, perhaps due to national security interests. I looked around to see if there was some history behind the phrase ‘we don’t ask a man what he did at night,’ but didn’t find anything. I’m sure some astute readers will be able to point to the origin if there is one.
In any event, the few details that have come out about the blast don’t seem to add up very well. First of all, the Iranians are saying it wasn’t an attack. A news site linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards reported that the explosion was caused by a missile “as part of a test of air defenses’ response to a potential attack.” If the Iranians truly suspected that Israel had launched an attack on them I’m fairly sure they would be screaming from the rooftops this morning and threatening to drive them into the sea like they usually do.
Another factor is where the blast supposedly took place. I suppose it’s true that the blast location was technically “near” the Natanz nuclear site, but the location given was actually around 12 miles away. If Isreal was going to move to take out some of Iran’s uranium enrichment equipment, I have the feeling they would have hit the target or at least come a lot closer than that.
Could all of this have anything to do with the fact that the Iran nuclear deal talks in Vienna broke down yesterday? If we really want to go down the conspiracy theory rabbit hole there are a couple of options. First, even if we assume that this was an Israeli attack that missed the mark, Iran could be denying it and downplaying the story to avoid the impression that Israel can attack them at will and declare that they are just practicing to ward off future attacks. If that’s the case, then Israel would keep mum about it to avoid revealing any sources or methods.
If Iran’s explanation is true, however, then the Israeli Deputy Defense Minister might just be trying to sound mysterious to give people the impression that they are actively involved in stopping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon without having to actually say so. Personally, I’m leaning more toward that explanation at the moment, though the situation may change if more details are released.