Alleged cyber attacks caused fire and explosions at nuclear and military facilities in Iran

Pierluigi Paganini July 03, 2020

The root cause of a series of explosions at important facilities in Iran may be cyberattacks allegedly launched by Israel.

A recent sequence of fires and explosions at important Iranian facilities may have been caused by cyber attacks as part of an operation conducted by Israel.

Recently several major Iranian industrial facilities suffered a sequence of mysterious incidents. The media reported a fire at the Natanz nuclear enrichment site and an explosion at the Parchin military complex near Tehran, the latter is suspected to be a government center for the production of missiles.

The Iranian government is attempting to downplay the incidents, government officials declared that the explosion at the Parchin military complex was caused by a gas leak while the fire at the Natanz plant only impacted a warehouse that was under construction.

Security and intelligence experts believe the damage to the Iranian facilities was more severe, the fire at Natanz plant may have impacted a production facility.

“While offering no cause for Thursday’s blaze, Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency published a commentary addressing the possibility of sabotage by enemy nations such as Israel and the U.S. following other recent explosions in the country.” reported the Associated Press.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has so far has tried to prevent intensifying crises and the formation of unpredictable conditions and situations,” the commentary said. But ”the crossing of red lines of the Islamic Republic of Iran by hostile countries, especially the Zionist regime and the U.S., means that strategy … should be revised.”

The Natanz plant made the headlines in 2010 when it was targeted with the Stuxnet malware as part of a campaign supposedly carried out by Israel and the US.

The Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida cited an unnamed senior source as saying that the fire and the explosion are the results of cyber attacks conducted by Israel.

The newspaper also reported that last Friday Israeli F-35 stealth fighter jets bombed a site located in the area of Parchin.

Images of the Natanz site showed significant damage to one above-ground building, the roof was destroyed by the fire.

Late Thursday, the BBC’s Persian service revealed to have received an email prior to the announcement of the Natanz fire from a group identifying itself as the Cheetahs of the Homeland. The group took credit for the attack without providing details of the incident. The Cheetahs group claimed to be dissident members of Iran’s security forces.

An apparent Iranian dissident group calling itself “Cheetahs of the Homeland” has taken credit for the attack on the facility at Natanz, but it did not provide additional details.

“The disparate messages, as well as the fact that Iran experts have never heard of the group before, raised questions about whether Natanz again had faced sabotage by a foreign nation as it had during the Stuxnet computer virus outbreak believed to have been engineered by the U.S. and Israel.” states the Associated Press. “Tehran’s reaction so far shows Iranian officials are increasingly taking the possibility seriously.”

“If it is proven that our country has been attacked by cyberattacks, we will respond,” warned Gen. Gholam Reza Jalali, the head of Iran’s military unit in charge of combating sabotage, according to a report late Thursday by the Mizan news agency.

The tension between Iran and Israel is always high, in April Israeli authorities alerted organizations in the water industry following a series of cyberattacks that hit water facilities in the country.

Israel’s National Cyber Directorate received reports of cyber attacks aimed at supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems at wastewater treatment plants, pumping stations and sewage facilities.

Experts believe the attacks were launched by Iranian state-sponsored hackers.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, Iran)

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