According to a report from The New York Times, the US has warned Israel against launching cover attacks against Iran’s civilian nuclear program, calling them “counterproductive.” But Israeli officials said they have no intention of “letting up.”
The report said over the past 20 months, four explosions at Iranian facilities have been attributed to Israel. Last November, Israel assassinated Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh inside Iran. The US has refused to condemn any of these attacks, giving them a tacit endorsement and raising questions over potential US involvement.
Iran has responded to Israel’s more recent attacks by increasing uranium enrichment and stopping voluntary cooperation with certain aspects of the JCPOA. After the Fakhrizadeh assassination, Iran’s parliament passed a law requiring some 20 percent uranium enrichment and for Iran to stop complying with the Additional Protocol, a JCPOA measure that allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to conduct snap inspections.
In April, Israel carried out an attack on Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility that coincided with the start of indirect negotiations between the US and Iran to revive the nuclear deal. Iran responded to the April attack by enriching some uranium at 60 percent, Iran’s highest-ever enrichment level, although it is still below the 90 percent needed for weapons-grade.
Besides these steps, the anonymous US officials cited by the Times said Iran has been rebuilding its damaged facilities with new machinery that can enrich uranium faster. The report said Israel disagrees with the US assessment.
The US and Iran are set to resume indirect negotiations on November 29th. Leading up to the talks, Israeli officials have been threatening to carry out more attacks on Iran. Earlier this month, the head of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said the force is “accelerating” plans to attack Iran. The IDF recently received a budget increase that will go towards planning operations against the Islamic Republic.