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The latest blast is certain to bring fresh charges by Iran that the U.S. and allies are waging a clandestine campaign of bloodshed and sabotage in attempts to set back Iran’s nuclear efforts.

“Instead of actually fighting a conventional war, Western powers and their allies appear to be relying on covert war tactics to try to delay and degrade Iran’s nuclear advancement,” said Theodore Karasik, a security expert at the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis.

He said the use of magnetic bombs bears the hallmarks of covert operations.

“It’s a very common way to eliminate someone,” he added. “It’s clean, easy and efficient.”

Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-born analyst based in Israel, said Iran’s leadership is being pushed toward a decision on whether to “retaliate or compromise” as sanctions squeeze the economy and undercut the value of the Iranian rial.

“From the international consensus that we can see against Iran, even if (Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) does retaliate, it’s not very likely that the pressure — sanctions and isolation — would ease,” he said. “He’s in a tight spot.”

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Associated Press writer Brian Murphy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Amy Teibel in Jerusalem contributed to this report.