Iran blames Israel for attack on Natanz nuclear site

 

April 12, 2021

 


This March 2005 file photo shows Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility. © Raheb Homavandi, Reuters

 

By FRANCE 24 with AFP and AP

 

Iran blamed Israel on Monday for an attack on its underground Natanz uranium enrichment plant, warning that it would seek revenge for the assault.

“Of course the Zionist regime, with this action, tried to take revenge on the people of Iran for their patience and wise attitude regarding the lifting of (US) sanctions,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said at a press conference

It was the first official accusation levelled against Israel for the incident Sunday that cut power across the facility. Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, called the attack an act of “nuclear terrorism” on Sunday, but he stopped short of directly blaming anyone for the incident.

Israel has not directly claimed responsibility for the attack. However, suspicion fell immediately on Israel as media there nearly uniformly reported that a devastating cyberattack orchestrated by the country caused the blackout.

If Israel was responsible, it would further heighten tensions between the two nations, already engaged in a shadow conflict across the wider Middle East. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who met Sunday with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, has vowed to do everything in his power to stop the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal.

IR-1 centrifuges damaged in attack

Details about what happened early Sunday morning at the enrichment facility remained sketchy. The event was initially described as a blackout caused by the electrical grid feeding its above-ground workshops and underground enrichment halls.

Khatibzadeh acknowledged that IR-1 centrifuges, the first-generation workhorse of Iran’s uranium enrichment, had been damaged in the attack. However, he did not elaborate. State television has yet to show any images from the facility.

“The answer for Natanz is avenging Israel,” Khatibzadeh said. “Israel will receive its answer through its own path.” He did not elaborate.

Natanz suffered a mysterious explosion in July that authorities later described as sabotage. Israel was suspected of being behind the attack.

Iran also blamed Israel for the killing of a scientist who began the country’s military nuclear programme decades earlier.

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