The new plots “fit within the pattern of the shadow war” that pits Iran and its proxies against the West, he said. “But what is shocking is the fact that, while the modus operandi is the same, this time they succeeded.”
U.S. officials cautioned that there was, as yet, no firm evidence linking Iran or its allies to Wednesday’s attack in the Black Sea port of Burgas. In the latest incident, a suicide bomber, disguised as a tourist and carrying a fake Michigan driver’s license, managed to blend in with an Israeli tour group at the city’s airport before detonating his explosives, killing five Israelis as well as their Bulgarian bus driver and himself.
A succession of Israeli government officials blamed Iran and Hezbollah for the attack, citing unspecified intelligence. One of the country’s top former defense officials went further, directly linking the suicide bombing to the broader covert war with Iran. A spate of car bombings since 2010 killed four senior Iranian nuclear scientists and, in a separate phase of the covert battle, sophisticated cyberattacks have slowed Iran’s nuclear program.
“We are in a battle against Iran,” former Israeli national security adviser Uzi Arad said in an interview broadcast on Israel’s Army Radio. “We are an active side. We are not passive. . . . Any person with eyes in their head understands that this is what is behind us and ahead of us.”
Iran denied having any role in the Bulgarian attack, and its official media dismissed Israeli accusations as “ridiculous.”
Both Iran and Hezbollah have publicly blamed Israel and the United States for the assassinations of nuclear scientists and the assassination of the militia’s former security director, Imad Fayez Mughniyeh, who was blown apart in Syria in 2008 by a car bomb detonated by remote control.
Iran has also accused U.S. and Israeli operatives of launching sophisticated cyber attacks in recent years aimed at disrupting its nuclear program. The main attack involved a computer virus called Stuxnet, which crippled Iran’s main uranium enrichment plant.
While refusing to elaborate on specific programs or incidents, both Israel and the United States have acknowledged using an array of covert means to slow Iran’s nuclear program. Both countries and other Western nations believe the effort is aimed at providing Iran’s leaders with a nuclear-weapons capability. Iran contends that it seeks nuclear power only for peaceful, civilian applications.
The Obama administration said Thursday that it would continue to use of a variety of measures to persuade Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions. It also vowed to punish whoever was responsible for the deaths of Israelis in Bulgaria.
“We will work with and provide assistance to both Israel and Bulgaria in the effort to find out who was responsible for the attack in Bulgaria,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said, “and to hold accountable the responsible party or parties.”