Iran says Natanz nuclear site hit by terrorism

By Parisa Hafezi

An incident at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility on Sunday was caused by an act of "nuclear terrorism", the country's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said, according to state TV, adding that Tehran reserves the right to take action against the perpetrators.

Israel's Kan public radio cited intelligence sources, whose nationality it did not disclose, as saying that Israel's Mossad spy agency had carried out a cyber attack at the site.

Earlier on Sunday, the spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI) had said that a problem with the electrical distribution grid of the Natanz site had caused an incident, Iranian media reported.

The spokesman, Behrouz Kamalvandi, said the incident caused no casualties or contamination.

The facility, located in the desert in the central province of Isfahan, is the centerpiece of Iran's uranium enrichment program and is monitored by inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

"While condemning this despicable move, Iran emphasizes the need for the international community and the International Atomic Energy Agency to deal with this nuclear terrorism and reserves the right to take action against the perpetrators," Salehi said. He did not elaborate.

Israel, which has accused Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons that could be used against it, made no official comment on the incident. It took place a day after Tehran, which has denied it seeks atomic arms, launched new advanced enrichment centrifuges at Natanz.

Asked about what had occurred, an IAEA spokesman said by email, "We are aware of the media reports. We have no comment at this stage."

Kan Radio, citing the intelligence sources, said the damage at Natanz was more extensive than had been reported in Iran.

At a ceremony on Sunday with Israeli military and intelligence chiefs marking the 73rd anniversary next week of Israel's founding, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made no direct reference to Natanz.

But he said: "The fight against Iran's nuclearization ... is a massive task".

Tehran says its nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes.

In July last year, a fire broke out at the facility, which Iran said was an attempt to sabotage the country's nuclear program.

In 2010, the Stuxnet computer virus, widely believed to have been developed by the United States and Israel, was discovered after it was used to attack Natanz.

The incident at the Natanz facility comes amid efforts by Tehran and Washington to revive Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with major powers after former U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned it three years ago. Trump reimposed sanctions that had been lifted on the Islamic Republic under the deal, and brought in many more.

In reaction to the U.S. sanctions, Iran has gradually breached many restrictions imposed by the accord. The two nations laid out tough stances at indirect talks in Vienna last week on how to bring both back into full compliance with the deal.

"The action taken against the Natanz site shows the failure of the opposition to Iran's industrial and political progress to prevent the significant development of Iran's nuclear industry," Salehi said.

"To thwart the goals of those who commanded this terrorist act ... Iran will continue to improve its nuclear technology on the one hand and to lift oppressive U.S. sanctions on the other hand," he said.

Iran has blamed Israel for last year’s killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was seen by Western intelligence services as the mastermind of a covert Iranian nuclear weapons program.

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the killing.

President Hassan Rouhani reiterated Iran's commitment to nuclear non-proliferation on Saturday while overseeing the launch of advanced centrifuges at the Natanz plant to mark the country's National Nuclear Technology Day.

© Thomson Reuters 2021.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

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When the world's leading sponsor of terrorism and the world's leading terrorist state and states that are significant sources of terrorists in your region all have declared their intent to do whatever they can to prevent you from having a domestic civilian technology base, it is pretty reasonable to complain about the need for action against terrorist attacks after an incident involving that technology base.

That the specific incident might turn out to not be the work of terrorists, that doesn't make the ones that were something that doesn't need international attention and action against the people behind them

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Whoops, looks like the bad guys aren’t the only ones with an offensive cyber capability.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Israel is as much a state sponsor of terror as Iran. The US should cut Off Israel and keep that money to pay down the debt.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Gd, I'm interested in why you don't think that the Israeli regime qualifies as one of the 'bad guys'? If repeatedly committing war crimes in the service of the Crime Against Humanity detailed in the ICSPCA doesn't put you on the 'bad' list, but, apparently, being a democracy that protects itself, helps its neighbors, and campaigns against WMDs, and those committing a crime against humanity does, you either have a compelling reason, or are seriously misinformed.

And it is worth noting that, as a site in Iran where enriched nuclear material is made, the facility is frequently inspected and repeatedly certified as a purely civilian operation by the teams from the IAEA.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

"Nuclear terrorism"? A seemingly new term from Iran that could have devastating implication. But what can Tehran do at the moment?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Israel is setting a very dangerous precedent in attacking a Nuclear facility. Should there be a nuclear accident due to such terrorist actions it opens itself up to a future nuclear strike in retaliation and world wide condemnation.

Israeli stocks are already at an all time low thanks to Netanyahu and his treatment of the Palestinians and the continued blocking of a two state solution. They can not attack whoever they like in the region with impunity forever. Sooner or later Israel will pay a high price for their hostilities, it is becoming more inevitable with each attack they carry out. Israel does not get to determine how the whole middle east looks or acts.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Should Iran show proof?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

TWO terrorist States at war, Iran and Israel.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

How come nobody ever suspects Saudi involvement? They certainly have the resources and the motive, including fighting a proxy war with Iran in Yemen. The Saudis are of the opinion the 2019 Abqaiq-Khurais attack originated from Iran and not from Yemen's Houthis. Revenge is a strong motivator yet nobody ever mentions the Saudis when Iran or its assets are attacked.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How come nobody ever suspects Saudi involvement?

An Israeli General is giving big "hints" that it was an Israeli operation, so unless they were working with the Saudi's on this it was carried out by Israel alone.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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