Iran calls the power outage at the Natanz atomic site “nuclear terrorism”

Dubai-Iran, United Arab Emirates, described a power outage at the underground Natanz atomic facility as an act of “nuclear terrorism” on Sunday I’m getting nervous.

There was no immediate claim of liability, but the allegations soon fell upon Israel. In Israel, the media reported almost uniformly that a devastating cyberattack organized by the country caused a power outage.

If Israel were responsible, it would further increase tensions between the two countries and have already been involved in shadow conflicts throughout the wider Middle East. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who met with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Sunday, has vowed to do everything in his power to thwart the nuclear deal.

Little details remained about what happened at the facility early Sunday morning. This was initially described as a power outage caused by a power grid that powers above-ground workshops and underground enrichment halls.

Ali Akbar Salehi, former Iranian Foreign Minister and head of the US-educated Iranian Atomic Energy Agency, commented the toughest of his long career, including the assassination of a nuclear scientist 10 years ago. Provided what seems to be. Iran has also blamed Israel for their killings.

He promised to “seriously improve” his country’s nuclear technology while working to lift international sanctions.

Saleh’s comment on state television did not explain what happened at the facility, but his words suggested serious confusion.

“While condemning this desperate move, the Islamic Republic of Iran emphasizes the need for a conflict between the International Atomic Energy Agency and the (International Atomic Energy Agency) against this nuclear terrorism,” Saleh said.

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Natanz uranium enrichment facility for satellite photography in Natanz, Iran, April 7, 2021. (Planet Labs Inc. via AP)

The IAEA, a UN agency that oversees Tehran’s nuclear program, said it had previously known media reports of the incident in Natanz and had talked with Iranian authorities. The agency did not elaborate.

However, 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 in Natanz during the early years of Western fear of the Tehran program. Did.

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

Israeli media reported on Sunday that an Israeli cyberattack caused a power outage in Natanz. 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.

“It’s hard to believe it was a coincidence,” said Joel Guzanski, a senior researcher at the Tel Aviv National Security Institute, about the power outage on Sunday. “If it’s not a coincidence and it’s big, someone is trying to send the message” Iran’s advance can be restricted and there is a red line “. “

He added that Iran’s most sensitive nuclear sites send a message that they are “intrusive.”

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A view of the uranium enrichment facility in Natanz, 250 km (155 miles) south of Tehran, the capital of Iran, on March 30, 2005. (Raheb Homavandi / Reuters)

Netanyahu toasted the security minister late Sunday night, with Mossad chief Yoshi Cohen beside him on the eve of Independence Day.

“It’s very difficult to explain what we have achieved,” Netanyahu said of Israel’s history, saying that the country has changed from a weakness to a “world power.”

Israel usually does not discuss operations carried out by Mossad intelligence agencies or specialized military units. In recent weeks, Netanyahu has repeatedly described Iran as a major threat to his country as he struggles to maintain power while facing corruption charges after multiple elections. ..

At the Sunday night event, Netanyahu urged his security chief to “go in this direction and continue to obtain David’s sword,” using expressions of Jewish strength.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with Austin on Sunday and said Israel sees the United States as an ally against all threats, including Iran.

“Today’s Tehran poses a strategic threat to international security, the entire Middle East, and the state of Israel,” Gantz said. “And we will work closely with our American allies, and a new agreement with Iran will secure the world, the important interests of the United States, prevent dangerous arms race in our region, and make Israel. Make sure you protect. “

Lieutenant General Aviv Kochabi, the chief of staff of the Israeli army, also appeared to refer to Iran.

“Operations in the Middle East are not hidden from the eyes of the enemy,” Kochabi said. “They look at us, look at (our) abilities, and weigh carefully.”

On Saturday, Iran announced that it had launched a chain of 164 IR-6 centrifuges at its factory. Authorities have also begun testing the IR-9 centrifuge. It states that it concentrates uranium 50 times faster than Iran’s first-generation centrifuge, the IR-1. The nuclear agreement has restricted Iran to use only IR-1 for enrichment.

Since then, Tehran has abandoned all limits of its uranium stockpile since President Donald Trump withdrew from Iran’s nuclear deal in 2018. It is now up to 20% more pure, technically one step away from the weapons-grade 90%. Iran claims that its atomic program is for peaceful purposes.

The nuclear deal provided Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for ensuring that stockpiles would never expand until Iran had access to an atomic bomb if it chose.

On Tuesday, an Iranian cargo ship, which is said to function as a floating base for the Iranian paramilitary revolutionary defense force off Yemen, was probably hit by an explosion from Limpet Mine. Iran blamed Israel for the explosion. The attack escalated a long shadow war aimed at shipping in the region in the waterways of the Middle East.

John Gambrel