Iran accuses Israel of attacking Natanz nuclear site

Dubai-Iran, United Arab Emirates, accused Israel on Monday of an attack on an underground Natanz nuclear facility that damaged a centrifuge.

Israel has not claimed responsibility for the attack, but Israeli media has widely reported that the country has organized a devastating cyberattack that caused a power outage at a nuclear facility. Israeli authorities rarely admit operations carried out by the country’s secret military units or their Mossad intelligence.

The nature of the attack in Natanz and the extent of the damage are unknown, but former Iranian officials said the assault ignited while a spokesman referred to a “potential minor explosion.”

The United States, which is negotiating in Vienna to rejoin the nuclear deal under President Joe Biden, has vowed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will suspend the deal at any cost.

Netanyahu met with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday. Lloyd Austin’s arrival in Israel coincided with the first word of the attack. They talked briefly to the journalist, but didn’t ask any questions.

“My policy as Israeli Prime Minister is clear. I will never allow Iran to acquire the nuclear capacity to carry out the genocide goal of eliminating Israel,” Netanyahu said. “And Israel will continue to protect itself from Iran’s aggression and terrorism.”

At a previous press conference at Israel’s Nevatim Airbase, Austin did not say whether the attack on Natanz could hinder the Biden administration’s efforts to re-engage with Iran in its nuclear program.

“These efforts will continue,” Austin said. The former US administration under the Donald Trump administration withdrew from the nuclear deal with the world powers, and Iran abandoned the restrictions on its atomic program set by the deal.

German Foreign Minister Mars has expressed concern that it could affect the negotiations. “Not everything we hear from Teheran is a positive contribution to this,” Mars told reporters.

The White House said in a statement that it was aware of Natanz’s attack and “the United States was not involved in any way” without giving details.

Details about what happened at the facility at the beginning of Sunday were still inadequate. The event was initially described only as a power outage in the grid that powers above-ground workshops and underground enrichment halls, but later Iranian authorities began calling it an attack.

A former chief of Iran’s paramilitary revolutionary defense force said the attack ignited on the scene and called for improved security. In a tweet, General Mosen Rezaei said the second assault in Natanz in a year indicated “the seriousness of the infiltration phenomenon.” Rezaei didn’t say where he got the information.

The facility appears to be very confused, with prominent nuclear spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi walking on the ground after the attack 7 meters (23 feet) through an open ventilation tower covered with aluminum debris. ) He fell, broke his leg and hurt him. Head.

“A possible small explosion scattered the debris,” Kamalbandy said without elaboration.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh admitted that the IR-1 centrifuge, Iran’s first-generation uranium enrichment flagship product, was damaged by the attack, but did not give details. State television has not yet displayed images from the site that saw the new advanced centrifuge turned on on Saturday.

“Natanz’s answer is to take revenge on Israel,” said Katib Zade. “Israel will receive the answer through its own path,” he did not elaborate.

Meanwhile, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Jabad Zarif warned that Natanz would be rebuilt with more sophisticated machinery. It will allow Iran to concentrate uranium more quickly and complicate nuclear negotiations.

“Zionists wanted to take revenge on the Iranian people for their success on the road to lifting sanctions,” said Iran’s state-owned IRNA news agency, citing Zairf. “But we don’t allow it, and we take revenge on this action against Zionists.”

Iran sent a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN agency that monitors Tehran’s atomic program, urging it to condemn the attack, state television reported Monday.

The IAEA said it had previously known media reports of a power outage in Natanz and had discussed it with Iranian authorities. The agency did not elaborate.

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s private nuclear program, said authorities began efforts to supply Natanz with emergency electricity on Monday. He said the sabotage did not stop the enrichment there without giving details.

Natanz has been the target of sabotage in the past. Discovered in 2010 and widely believed to be co-created by the United States and Israel, the Stuxnet computer virus destroyed and destroyed an Iranian centrifuge during the early years of Western fear of the Tehran program. ..

In July, Natanz was hit by a mysterious explosion at an advanced centrifuge assembly plant, which authorities later described as sabotage. Iran is currently rebuilding its facility deep in the nearby mountains. Iran also accused Israel of that and the November killing of scientists who launched the country’s military nuclear program decades ago.

Israel has also launched a series of airstrikes targeting Iranian troops and their equipment in neighboring Syria. Israel is also suspected of attacking an Iranian cargo ship last week, which is said to function as a floating base for Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard Corps off Yemen.

Israeli media reported on Sunday that an Israeli cyberattack caused a power outage, but it remains unclear what actually happened there. Public broadcaster Kang said Mossad was behind the attack. Channel 12 TV quoted “experts” as presuming that the attack shut down an entire section of the facility.

The report did not provide a source of their information, but the Israeli media maintains close ties with the country’s military and intelligence agencies.

In recent weeks, Netanyahu has repeatedly described Iran as a major threat to its country as it struggles to seize power while facing corruption charges after multiple elections. The suspension of the nuclear deal was a recurring theme for his comments.

John Gambrel