Will there be an attack on an Iranian nuclear- or offensive missile-related facility in the next 6 months?

Started May 10, 2024 08:30PM UTC
Forecast Window 6 months

Despite international efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear program, concerns remain that both the level of enrichment and the amount of stockpiled fissile material lay the groundwork for development of a nuclear weapon (VOA, Fox). In addition to highly enriched uranium, ballistic missiles are needed to deliver nuclear warheads to its target, and Iran has the largest ballistic missile arsenal in the Middle East (Jerusalem Post, United States Institute for Peace). Consequently, their missile program is seen as a nuclear threat by many of its neighbors, including Israel who has threatened military action to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon (Reuters).

Tensions between Israel and Iran escalated significantly in April 2024 with a series of attacks that included Iran's first-ever direct strike on Israel and Israel striking an air defense system in Iran near two of Iran's most important nuclear facilities (CSIS, The Bulletin).

Resolution Criteria: 
Reputable open source media will be used to assess whether a nuclear-related or offensive missile-related facility in Iran was attacked. Missile-related facilities are those used for missile production, research and development, storage, targeting, or launch. Offensive missiles are used to deliver warheads to targets, while defensive missile systems detect, track, and intercept incoming threats (Arms Control Association). Only offensive missile-related facilities will count towards resolution. 

Note that even though defensive missile systems can and are being used as offensive missiles (e.g., in the Russia-Ukraine War), attacks on defensive missile systems (like the Israeli attack on an S-300 system near Isfahan on 19 April 2024) will not count towards resolution unless reports indicate that Iran is plausibly using those defensive missiles for offensive purposes. 

Cyber attacks (e.g., Stuxnet or the 2019 cyber attack on Iranian missile systems) and kinetic attacks (e.g., the 2020 bombing of a Parchin missile facility) will count towards the resolution of this question, as will attacks described as sabotage (e.g., the April 2021 Natanz attack). Cyber attacks must target the nuclear- or missile-related facility to count, so incidental impact to a facility from a cyber attack against other targets would not count towards resolution. Attacks on a missile that has been launched (e.g., an Iranian missile being shot down by another country’s missile defense system), would not count. The perpetrator of the attack does not need to be named or confirmed, but open source media should describe the event as an attack not as an accident. For attacks on unconfirmed facilities, the INFER team will consult news reports and other reputable sources to determine whether the site is used for the missile production, research and development, storage, targeting, or launch.

Related Questions:

Additional Reading:

This question is part of the issue decomposition on “Iran's Nuclear Progress.” For more, see INFER's explainer, issue reports, and other questions in this decomposition.
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