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Mysterious explosions escalate Israel, Iran tensions

Ahead of the US presidential elections, and on the backdrop of mysterious explosions, Israel prepares for various escalation scenarios on Iran’s part.
Iranian security and rescue staff work at the site of an explosion at the Sina At'har health centre in the upmarket northern neighbourhood of Tajrish in the capital Tehran on July 1, 2020. - Iranian police questioned four people as part of investigations into a powerful explosion that killed 19 people at a Tehran clinic the night before, state media reported. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)

Several days after the massive July 2 explosion that destroyed the upper level of Iran’s centrifuge upgrading and uranium enrichment plant in Natanz, reports emerged in Israel that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had asked Mossad Director Yossi Cohen to stay on an additional year once his five-year term expires at the end of the year. However, "the head,” as the spy agency director is known, only agreed to a six-month extension. Shortly after, in the pre-dawn hours of July 3, Israel launched its Ofek 16 spy satellite carried on a Shavit rocket from its Palmachim military base. The satellite significantly enhances Israel’s ability to track events around the world, in particular Iran. Its particularly sophisticated camera enables the identification of items as small as 50 centimeters (19.5 inches) from a height of up to 450 kilometers (280 miles). Ofek 16 joins six other Israeli reconnaissance satellites orbiting earth and transmitting real-time data on developments around the world.

Intelligence officials believe Iran is now reassessing what they dub its “strategic patience policy.” The Iranians themselves admit it. A commentary on Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency said, “Iran so far has tried to prevent intensifying crises and the formation of unpredictable conditions and situations.” However, it continued, “the crossing of red lines of the Islamic Republic of Iran by hostile countries, especially the Zionist regime and the United States, means that strategy … should be revised.” It now appears that the Iranians are in discussions on recalibrating their course, indeed. They are no longer convinced that their famed patience serves their ongoing military nuclear ambitions and the tense wait for the results of the November US presidential elections.

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