The assassination of Iran's nuclear programme chief Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in November 2020 was a major embarrassment for the country's security establishment.
Four months later, the "damaging" sabotage attack at Natanz facility has raised more questions.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a wing of the Iranian armed forces tasked with preventing foreign interference and military coup, is considered to be under heightened pressure to retaliate considering that an Israeli radio broadcaster has publicly attributed Mossad's role in the Natanz incident.
According to analysts, the fallout could be seen in the Persian Gulf where the tit-for-tat vessel attacks may escalate.
The Bahamas-flagged vehicle carrier Hyperion Ray was targeted off the United Arab Emirates coast on April 12, a day after the explosion at Natanz.
Unnamed Israeli officials, quoted by the country's Channel 12, blamed Iran for the "missile strike" on the vessel. Tehran, however, did not claimed responsibility.
This came days after another Israeli-owned vessel Lori was attacked in the Arabian Sea on March 25, with Iran being blamed as the perpetrator of the missile strike.
A vessel owned by Tel Aviv-based Ray Shipping Ltd., the Helios Ray, was also attacked in the Mediterranean Sea last month. Israel had blamed Iran for the assault.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks at a cabinet meeting in Tehran, Iran on April 14, 2021. (Image: AP)
Experts are, however, unsure whether Iran, through its retaliatory moves, is capable of causing damage to the extent it suffered at Natanz.
"I am unsure whether Iran is capable of retaliating, and I am also uncertain about the effectiveness of Iran’s retaliation. Iran’s hit-and-run operations in the region over the last few years have had a limited impact, whether it was the September 2019 attack on Saudi Aramco’s oil processing facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais in eastern Saudi Arabia, or the recent missile attack on the ship MV Hyperion Ray bound for the UAE from Kuwait. At best, Iran can sabotage Israeli assets in the Middle East via proxies," Ashwarya said.
Some analysts, however, have pointed towards the robustness of Iran's Quds Force - the military unit specialising in secretive operations - as demonstrated in the alleged attack on a Mossad base in Iraq's Kurdistan.
Iraq's Sabreen News, citing sources, had reported that an intelligence agent was killed in the attack in Kurdistan on the night of April 15 and several Mossad personnel were injured. A day later, however, official authorities in Kurdistan rejected the reports.
"The reported Iranian attack on a Mossad base in Kurdistan, Iraq, claimed by the Iraqi news outlet Sabereen News, which is affiliated with Iran-backed militias in the country, has now been proven to be false, with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) categorically denying it," Ashwarya pointed out.
The KRG also stated that there is no Mossad base in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. The entire episode demonstrated "Iran's propaganda machine’s frailty", the Jamia Associate Professor said, adding that "even if an attack occurred, the narrative was quickly undermined by a counter-narrative."