Is Iran Already Under Attack?

Adam Chandler, the Goldblog deputy-editor-for-monitoring-Iran-obsessively-even-though-Goldblog-himself-also-monitors-Iran-obsessively, pointed out to me the other day that perhaps the West has already begun the attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, that perhaps we ought to reframe this issue a bit. The attacks he mentioned are not the usual sub-rosa, eyebrow-raising tech and computer virus sort of attacks, but outright physical attacks. This is more a semantic issue, I suppose (and yes, I realize the Iranian regime is virulently anti-semantic), but operations against Iran are seeming to move away from the pure Mossad-in-the-70s-style attacks to straight-up military confrontations. I don't know if this is a sign of escalation or desperation or both, though it seems fair to say that less subtlety on the part of Israel, the U.S. and whoever else is doing this suggests that the previous tactics were deemed insufficient.

Following a (perhaps not-so-mysterious) explosion on a military base last month that took with it the life of Gen. Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam--one of the Iranian missile program's most distinguished OGs--comes news of a second explosion in Isfahan this past Monday, which according to sources "struck the uranium enrichment facility there, despite denials by Tehran."

Of course, accurate news out of Tehran is hard to come by, but if you want to take this a step further, one might consider Tuesday's (perhaps not-so-spontaneous) storming of the British embassy by Iranian "students" to be quite an effective smokescreen in keeping news of this second explosion from making serious waves. If you've had a lot of coffee, it's also worthy to note that on Monday evening, following the explosion in Iran, four missiles fired from southern Lebanon struck Israel--the first such incident in over two years.

I'm not entirely convinced, but it's not unreasonable to group these recent explosions with the Stuxnet virus of last summer that haywired an uranium enrichment facility in Natanz; last October's explosion at a Shahab missile factory; the killing of three Iranian nuclear scientists in the past two years, last November's attempted assassination of Fereydoun Abbasi-Davan--a senior official in the nuclear program -- and rumblings of a second supervirus deployed this month as proof that the West's war on Iran's nuclear program is getting less covert by the minute.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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