On Sunday Apr 11th, it was reported that the hit on the Iranian Natanz nuclear facility was a terrorist act. This is just hours after the Iran Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) initially said an “accident” had caused a power failure there.
The IAEO said it had started up advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges at the site just a day before the attack began. The advanced uranium enrichment is in a breach of Iran’s commitments under a 2015 deal with world powers.
Urging the international community to confront the anti-nuclear terrorism attack comes from Ali Akbar Salehi. Salehi is the head of the Iran Atomic Energy Organisation (IAEO). In a statement read out by state television, Salehi also condemned the attack as a futile act.
Salehi did not specify which country or entity might be behind the alleged sabotage. However, he said the attack was carried out by “opponents of the country’s industrial and political progress, who aim to prevent development of a thriving nuclear industry.”
An accident at the enrichment facility was earlier reported by IAEO spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi. It was said to be caused by a power failure. Citing the spokesman, the official news agency, Fars, reported that no injuries and no radioactive release.
There had been “an accident in part of the electrical circuit of the enrichment facility” at the Natanz complex near Tehran according to Kamalvandi. There was no mention of whether the power cut was limited to the enrichment facility or across the whole nuclear facility.
The spokesman added that they were investigating the cause of the accident and more details will be released later. Salehi’s statement claiming a terrorist attack came soon after.
Unidentified intelligence sources allege Israel’s Mossad spy agency carried out a cyber-attack at the site, according to the Israeli Kan public radio. Compared to reports from Iran, the radio station said the damage at Natanz was more extensive.
The Natanz facility is situated in the desert in the central province of Isfahan. It is the centrepiece of Iran’s uranium enrichment programme. Inspectors from the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitor it.
By email, an IAEA spokesman said they are aware of the recent media reports. When questioned about the incident, the spokesperson said IAEA has no comment at this stage.
Sabotage or infiltration
Allegations of sabotage were posed on Twitter by Malek Chariati, spokesman for the Iranian parliament’s energy commission.
Chariati said “This incident, coming (the day after) National Nuclear Technology Day, as Iran endeavours to press the West into lifting sanctions, is strongly suspected to be sabotage or infiltration.”
On Saturday, a ceremony was broadcast by state television. In it, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani inaugurated a cascade of centrifuges for enriching uranium and two test cascades at the Natanz facility.
Israeli cyber operation to blame
Amichai Stein is an Israeli public broadcast journalist. Stein took to Twitter, claiming “the assessment is that the fault” at Natanz is the “result of an Israeli cyber operation”. He did not elaborate or provide evidence to back up his claim.
Later on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “the struggle against Iran and its proxies and the Iranian armament efforts is a huge mission”.
Without elaborating further, Netanyahu said the situation that currently exists today will not necessarily be the same situation tomorrow. Netanyahu made his remarks during an event during to the anniversary of Israel’s independence.
12th April 2021 23:00
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