Iran on Sunday described a blackout at its underground Natanz atomic facility an act of “nuclear terrorism,” raising regional tensions as world powers and Tehran still negotiate over its tattered nuclear deal.Ali Akbar Salehi, the top of the nuclear energy Organization of Iran, stopped in need of directly blaming anyone for the incident. Details remained few about what happened early Sunday morning at the power , which initially was described as a blackout caused by the electrical grid feeding the location .
Many Israeli media outlets offered an equivalent assessment that a cyberattack darkened Natanz and damaged a facility that's home to sensitive centrifuges. While the reports offered no sourcing for the evaluation, Israeli media maintains an in depth relationship with the country’s military and intelligence agencies.
If Israel caused the blackout, it further heightens tensions between the 2 nations, already engaged during a shadow conflict across the broader Middle East .“To thwart the goals of this terrorist movement, the Islamic Republic of Iran will still seriously improve nuclear technology on the one hand and to lift oppressive sanctions on the opposite hand,” Salehi said, according state TV.
He added: “While condemning this desperate move, the Islamic Republic of Iran emphasizes the necessity for a confrontation by the international bodies and therefore the (International nuclear energy Agency) against this terrorism .”The IAEA, the United Nations’ body that monitors Tehran’s atomic program, earlier said it had been conscious of media reports about the incident at Natanz and had spoken with Iranian officials about it. The agency didn't elaborate.
Sunday’ developments also complicate efforts by the U.S., Israel’s main security partner, to re-enter the atomic accord aimed toward limiting Tehran’s program so it can’t pursue a weapon of mass destruction . As news of the blackout emerged, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin landed Sunday in Israel for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
Power at Natanz was cut across the power , which is comprised of above-ground workshops and underground enrichment halls, civilian nuclear program spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi earlier told Iranian state TV.
Salehi’s comments to state TV didn't explain what happened at the power . However, Natanz has been targeted by sabotage within the past. The Stuxnet bug , discovered in 2010 and widely believed to be a joint U.S.-Israeli creation, once disrupted and destroyed Iranian centrifuges at Natanz amid an past of Western fears about Tehran’s program.
Natanz suffered a mysterious explosion at its advanced centrifuge factory in July that authorities later described as sabotage. Iran now's rebuilding that facility deep inside a close-by mountain.Israel, Iran’s regional archenemy, has been suspected of completing that attack also as launching other assaults, as world powers negotiate with Tehran in Vienna over its nuclear deal.
Iran also blamed Israel for the killing of a scientist who began the country’s military nuclear program decades earlier.Multiple Israeli media outlets reported Sunday that a cyberattack caused the blackout in Natanz. Public broadcaster Kan said Israel was likely behind the attack, citing Israel’s alleged responsibility for the Stuxnet attacks a decade ago. Channel 12 TV cited “experts” as estimating the attack pack up entire sections of the power . None of the reports included sources or explanations of how the outlets came thereto assessment.
“It’s hard on behalf of me to believe it’s a coincidence,” Yoel Guzansky, a senior fellow at Tel Aviv’s Institute for National Security Studies, said of Sunday’s blackout. “If it’s not a coincidence, and that’s an enormous if, someone is trying to send a message that ‘we can limit Iran’s advance and that we have red lines.’”It also sends a message that Iran’s most sensitive nuclear site is “penetrable,” he added.
Israel has not claimed any of the attacks, though it typically doesn’t discuss operations administered by its Mossad intelligence or specialized military units. Netanyahu repeatedly has described Iran because the major threat faced by his country in recent weeks as he struggles to carry onto power after multiple elections and while facing corruption charges.
Meeting with Austin on Sunday, Gantz said Israel viewed America as an ally against all threats, including Iran.“The Tehran of today poses a strategic threat to international security, to the whole Middle East and to the state of Israel,” Gantz said. “And we'll work closely with our American allies to make sure that any new agreement with Iran will secure the vital interests of the planet , of the us , prevent a dangerous race in our region, and protect the state of Israel.”
The Israeli army’s chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, also seemed to reference Iran.The Israeli military’s “operations within the Middle East aren't hidden from the eyes of the enemy,” Kochavi said. “They are watching us, seeing (our) abilities and weighing their steps with caution.”
On Saturday, Iran announced it had launched a sequence of 164 IR-6 centrifuges at the plant. Officials also began testing the IR-9 centrifuge, which they assert will enrich uranium 50 times faster than Iran’s first-generation centrifuges, the IR-1. The nuclear deal limited Iran to using only IR-1s for enrichment.
Since then-President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, Tehran has abandoned all the bounds of its uranium stockpile. It now enriches up to twenty purity, a technical step faraway from weapons-grade levels of 90%. Iran maintains its atomic program is for peaceful purposes.
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On Tuesday, an Iranian cargo vessel said to function a floating base for Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard forces off the coast of Yemen was struck by an explosion, likely from a limpet mine. Iran has blamed Israel for the blast. That attack escalated a long-running shadow war in Mideast waterways targeting shipping within the region.