Targeted Israeli strike is a message – and Iran’s response so far is telling


If this Israeli attack on Iran is no more than it presently appears to be, then it is rather well modulated.

If the airbase at Isfahan has been attacked – home to the 8th Tactical Air Wing of the Iranian Air Force, and not a Revolutionary Guard installation – then the Israelis are making their point against a conventional military target.

But Isfahan is an important city and home to the biggest nuclear research establishment in the country.

It is not an enrichment plant or a reactor, but the wide-ranging nuclear research conducted there involves some 3,000 Iranian nuclear scientists.

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A nuclear site near Isfahan in Iran in 2005. Pic: Reuters
A nuclear site near Isfahan in Iran in 2005. Pic: Reuters

So, the symbolism of hitting Isfahan will not be lost on those who worry about crisis escalation between two powers with nuclear facilities to protect.

Not least, there is an important aerospace industry around the city and many of the drones that attacked Israel last weekend may have been manufactured there.

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How did Israel attack Iran?

There are also strong reports, though still unconfirmed by external sources, that there may have been an attack on Tabriz, in the mountainous area to the northwest.

This, too, would make military sense, in that Tabriz is home to some of the protected silos from which Iran’s Shahab-2 and Shahab-3 ballistic missiles are launched – exactly the weapons that were used in the mass drone and missile attack last weekend.

So far, Iranian sources are taking the line that, really, nothing has happened.

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They are saying that there were some drone intrusions into Iranian airspace and that they were all dealt with. They claim that no explosions have taken place anywhere in Iran.

This is untrue, but it is a very helpful response in that it indicates Tehran wants to pretend there is nothing to which it needs to react.

So, maybe there will be no reaction from Tehran. We will see.

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For Israel, this is a tactical win, at least so far. Last weekend, Iran launched 330 drones and missiles at Israel and only seven of them got through and did very minor damage.

This weekend, Israel launched maybe two, perhaps four or five, missiles at Iran and they all will have gotten through. We will hear in due course.

The message from Israel to Tehran is very simple (and somewhat over-simplified, it must be said, in Israeli thinking) – we can protect ourselves from you whatever you do, but you cannot protect yourselves even from one of our smaller attacks if we choose to mount one. So, you would do well to remain frightened of our power.

We will see how clearly that message may have been received in Tehran.

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