Former defense secretary: Silence ‘deafening’ after Israel’s strike on Iran

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Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper called Iran’s silence “deafening” after Israel struck near a major air base and nuclear site in the city of Isfahan early Friday.

“This morning, the silence — from both sides, frankly — is deafening,” Esper, who served under former President Trump, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Friday. “That nobody’s talking about what happened.”

“So, I think, this appears to be the end of it right now. But we’ll see,” he continued.

Iran’s air defense batteries were activated after reports of explosions near the air base, but both sides have downplayed the significance of the strike in the hours since.

Israeli officials told The New York Times that it was a limited response aimed to avoid escalating tensions with Iran, especially because it did not cause significant damage to Iranian military sites.

An Iranian official told Reuters that there were no plans to respond against Israel.

During a press conference in Capri, Italy, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. has “not been involved in any offensive operations” when asked about the suspected Israeli airstrikes, calling them “reported events.”

Italy’s foreign minister said the U.S. told Group of Seven ministers that it had been informed “at the last minute” by Israeli officials about the drones, but there was “no sharing of the attack by the U.S.”

Esper said he thinks the Israeli strikes, which were in response to Iran’s retaliatory attack last Saturday, was merely to send a message about the country’s capabilities.

“The message being we can touch you, we can reach deep into Iran and we can hit very sensitive sites because Isfahan, as your reporters noted earlier, is where there’s a significant part of the Iran nuclear complex,” he said.

The air base in Isfahan has been home to Iran’s feet of American-made F-14 Tomcats. The facility also operates three Chinese-supplies research reactors and handles fuel production for the country’s civilian nuclear program.

Tensions remain high after Iran sent some 300 ballistic and cruise missiles and explosive drones to Israel. It was largely defeated by Israel’s defense system but caused concerns that the conflict will grow, following an Israeli strike that killed high-ranking Iranian commanders in Syria.

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