I think we can officially say that a state of war exists between Iran and Israel. The Iranians are still denying anything happened at their uranium enrichment facility in Isfahan while the Israelis aren't even trying to hide their involvement.
Satellite imagery seen by The Times confirmed that a blast that rocked the city of Isfahan on Monday struck the uranium enrichment facility there, despite denials by Tehran.
The images clearly showed billowing smoke and destruction, negating Iranian claims yesterday that no such explosion had taken place. Israeli intelligence officials told The Times that there was "no doubt" that the blast struck the nuclear facilities at Isfahan and that it was "no accident".
On Monday, Isfahan residents reported a blast that shook tower blocks in the city at about 2.40pm and seeing a cloud of smoke rising over the nuclear facility on the edge of the city.
"This caused damage to the facilities in Isfahan, particularly to the elements we believe were involved in storage of raw materials," said one military intelligence source.
He would not confirm or deny Israel's involvement in the blast, instead saying that there were "many different parties looking to sabotage, stop or coerce Iran into stopping its nuclear weapons program".
Iran went into frantic denial yesterday as news of the explosion at Isfahan emerged. Alireza Zaker-Isfahani, the city's governor, claimed that the blast had been caused by a military exercise in the area but state-owned agencies in Tehran soon removed this story and issued a government denial that any explosion had taken place at all.
On Monday, Dan Meridor. the Israeli Intelligence Minister, said: "There are countries who impose economic sanctions and there are countries who act in other ways in dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat."
Is Israel daring the Iranians to attack them? The above can't be classified as a denial in any sense of the word. They are, in fact, encouraging the speculation that they are responsible. Perhaps Israel doesn't want the onus of attacking first. Or perhaps Prime Minister Netanyahu is having trouble organizing a consensus to attack Iran in his cabinet and wants to force the issue with the Iranians.
At any rate, this appears to be the line being taken by the Israeli government -- that these blasts are no accident and that there will be no denials, diplomatic or otherwise:
Major-General Giora Eiland, Israel's former director of national security, told Israel's army radio that the Isfahan blast was no accident. "There aren't many coincidences, and when there are so many events there is probably some sort of guiding hand, though perhaps it's the hand of God," he said.
A former Israeli intelligence official cited at least two other explosions that have "successfully neutralised" Iranian bases associated with the Shahab-3, the medium-range missile that could be adapted to carry a nuclear warhead. "This is something everyone in the West wanted to see happen," he added.
Iran can't say that these blasts are deliberate attacks because if they did, they would be forced by their past rhetoric into doing something about it - namely, attacking Israel. For all their bluster, the Iranians know that they would lose a war with the Jewish state. Whether Israel is baiting Iran into a war can't be known at this time, but it's clear that the Israelis have found one way to slow down the Iranian program without resorting to a risky bombing campaign.