Striking Natanz facility planned long before Vienna talks – sources

At the time the operation was planned, it was still unclear exactly when and if the US and Iran would return to serious negotiations regarding a return to the 2015 nuclear deal.

The strike on Iran’s key Natanz nuclear facility was prepared long before the ongoing Vienna nuclear talks between Iran and the world powers, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Although it is quite possible that the exact timing of the attack, which is being widely attributed to Israel either as a physical or cyberattack, was eventually given a final green light to set the Islamic Republic back at the negotiating table, the operation itself was in the works long before.

At the time the operation was planned, it was still unclear exactly when and if the US and Iran would return to serious negotiations regarding a return to the 2015 nuclear deal, though it has been known for a long time that this was the professed intention of US President Joe Biden.

Previously, the Post has reported that planning of the now legendary Mossad January 2018 raid of Iran’s nuclear secrets started from the beginning of Mossad Director Yossi Cohen in early 2016.

Whether an operation is physical or cyber can also impact how long the planning takes since there are large differences in terms of how many operatives might be required on the ground.

With the New York Times report that the latest strike has brought down the Natanz electrical system for as many as nine months, there could be a major impact on the strength of Tehran’s negotiating position in Vienna.

Despite the importance to the specific negotiations, the impression given to the Post is that the covert war against Iran is ongoing and constant and focused on preventing it from getting close to the nuclear threshold regardless of the world powers’ specific policy on the issue at any given moment.

Though early Sunday Iran had tried to play down the Natanz event as an “accident,” by mid-morning the Post had reported the event was intentional and far graver than the Islamic Republic was admitting.

Later Sunday, other outlets and the Iranians started to report additional details about the severity of the event.

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