What We Know.
Fordow has become 'Iran's most heavily fortified facility', officials say. AP
Reza Kahlili reported Friday 25 that there had been an underground explosion at the secret Fordo nuclear enrichment facility in Iran. The details included the closure of a major roadway nearby following the event. The report also mentioned many technicians trapped underground, perhaps more than 200. Reza Kahlili and I then discussed the report earlier in the week of an emergency meeting in Ahmadinejad's office in Tehran. We reported on Wednesday evening 23 January that the meeting in Tehran was in anticipation of a covert operation by Israel or the US at Iranian nuke facilities. But then on Friday we reasoned that perhaps the meeting on Tuesday was to assess the damage of the explosion. We spoke at length at approximately 18:40 of the Friday 25 January podcast.
What Happened Next.
A number of European and Israeli publications reported on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 that Reza Kahlili had reported a Fordo explosion. The most significant of these reports was the Die Welt report on Saturday. I am told that Die Welt is associated with intelligence, and it is fair to assume that the entry is a confirmation. Then again, the London Times reported in its Monday 28 edition the same explosion. This report mentioned the Israeli government as well as "Israeli intelligence." I am told that the London Times is associated with significant intelligence sources. How to interpret these reports? The intelligence analysts have moved collaboratively in order to confirm Reza Kahlili's report.
All Eyes Only.
The days ahead include learning many more details of the event. I am speaking to Reza Kahlili Monday 28 on-air in order to provide a summary of the story so far. The concern now is for expected retaliation against Israel. The concern also is for the scale of the damage to Fordo. How badly does this set back the Tehran regime's campaign to consolidate its regional hegemony? Unknown. At the least, it is a blow to the Tehran regime's plan to strike a Grand Bargain with the US while at the same time preserving its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile capabilities. My measure after many conversations with Reza Kahlili and much correspondence with informed others is that there will be many more sudden turns. There is need for great care in the reporting. The Tehran regime is on a dark road, and it is doomed; however history teaches that the end of predatory regimes is not quick and comforting as in a bloodless coup but rather drawn-out and dangerous as in the defeat of Grendel.
Report to Kudlow (below)
Am told the explosion was so catastrophic that the underground cavities have collapsed and that the rescuers believe there is radiation contamination throughout the facility, all three levels. Am told that the explosion was timed on Monday morning 21 January Tehran time while a delegation of North Korean military men were visiting the facility. Am told that Israel is anticipating a retaliatory strike along its northern border. The event at Fordo is profound and may well change the calculus of the United Nations Security Council in negotiation with Tehran.