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Iran says key Natanz nuclear facility hit by `sabotage`

International desk || shiningbd

Published: 08:48, 12 April 2021  
Iran says key Natanz nuclear facility hit by `sabotage`

A satellite image of Iran`s Natanz nuclear facility taken last October

A nuclear facility in Iran was hit by "sabotage" a day after it unveiled new uranium enrichment equipment, the country's top nuclear official says.

Ali Akbar Salehi did not say who was to blame for the "terrorist act", which caused a power failure at the Natanz complex south of Tehran on Sunday.

Israeli public media, however, cited intelligence sources who said it was the result of an Israeli cyber-attack.

Israel has not commented on the incident directly.

But in recent days it has ramped up its warnings about Iran's nuclear programme.

The latest incident comes as diplomatic efforts to revive a 2015 nuclear deal - abandoned by the US under the Trump administration in 2018 - have resumed.

On Saturday, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani inaugurated new centrifuges at the Natanz site in a ceremony that was broadcast live on television. Centrifuges are devices needed to produce enriched uranium, which can be used to make reactor fuel as well as nuclear weapons.

It represented another breach of the country's undertakings in the 2015 deal, which only permits Iran to produce and store limited quantities of enriched uranium to be used to produce fuel for commercial power plants.

On Sunday, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI), Behrouz Kamalvandi, said an "incident" had occurred in the morning involving the nuclear facility's power network.

Kamalvandi did not provide further details but told Iran's Fars news agency there there had been "no casualties or leaks".

Later state TV read out a statement by AEOI head Ali Akbar Salehi, in which he described the incident as "sabotage" and "nuclear terrorism".

"Condemning this despicable move, the Islamic Republic of Iran emphasises the need for the international community and the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] to deal with this nuclear terrorism," he was quoted as saying.

"Iran reserves the right to take action against the perpetrators," he added.

The IAEA said it was aware of the reports of an incident but would not comment.

Last July, sabotage was blamed for a fire at the Natanz site which hit a central centrifuge assembly workshop.

 

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