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AFP
April 12, 2021

Iran says its nuclear facility hit by ‘terrorism’

Top Story

AFP
April 12, 2021

TEHRAN: Iran’s atomic energy organisation said Sunday the Natanz nuclear facility was hit by a terrorist act, hours after it said an “accident” had caused a power failure there.

The episode came a day after the Islamic republic said it had started up advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges at the site, in a breach of its commitments under a troubled 2015 deal with world powers.

Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Iran Atomic Energy Organisation (IAEO), condemned a “futile” act, while urging the international community to “confront this anti-nuclear terrorism”, in a statement carried by state television.

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,” he said, without specifying what country or entity might be behind the alleged sabotage.

IAEO spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi had earlier reported an accident at the enrichment facility caused by a “power failure”. No one was injured and there was no radioactive release, the official Fars news agency reported, citing the spokesman.

Kamalvandi said there had been “an accident in part of the electrical circuit of the enrichment facility” at the Natanz complex near Tehran.“The causes of the accident are under investigation and more details will be released later,” he added, before the later statement put out by the agency´s chief.

He did not say whether power was cut only in the enrichment facility or across other installations at the site.Malek Chariati, spokesman for the Iranian parliament´s energy commission, took to Twitter to allege sabotage.

“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,” Chariati said.

Iran´s President Hassan Rouhani had on Saturday inaugurated a cascade of centrifuges for enriching uranium and two test cascades at Natanz, in a ceremony broadcast by state television.

An Israeli public broadcast journalist, Amichai Stein, said on Twitter “the assessment is that the fault” at Natanz is the “result of an Israeli cyber operation”, without elaborating or providing evidence to corroborate his claim.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said later Sunday that “the struggle against Iran and its proxies and the Iranian armament efforts is a huge mission”.“The situation that exists today will not necessarily be the situation that will exist tomorrow,” he added, without elaborating.

Netanyahu made the remarks during an event involving intelligence service Mossad and the army for Israel´s independence anniversary.Iran´s president had on Saturday also inaugurated a replacement factory at Natanz, after an explosion at a facility making advanced centrifuges there last July.Iranian authorities likewise blamed the July incident on “sabotage” by “terrorists”, but have not released the results of their investigation into it.