Incident at Natanz is ‘nuclear terrorism’ says Iran’s atomic energy chief

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Iran’s nuclear chief confirmed the Natanz nuclear site was subject to an attack on Sunday, describing it as “nuclear terrorism” without giving details of the nature of the attack.

“Iran, while condemning this heinous move, emphasizes the need for the international community and the International Atomic Energy Agency to deal with this nuclear terrorism,” the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi said, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

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Earlier on Sunday, state media said a problem with the electrical distribution grid of the Natanz nuclear facility in central Iran caused an incident at the site.

Salehi did not say what exactly happened at Natanz. He did not say if Tehran held any party accountable for the incident, but said it “reflects the failure” of the opponents of Iran’s efforts to have sanctions against it removed – possibly referring to Israel, which strongly opposes the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and ongoing negotiations to revive it.

The latest incident comes amid efforts by the United States and Iran to revive the deal that Washington abandoned under former US President Donald Trump in 2018.

“Iran reserves the right to take action against the perpetrators,” Salehi said.

Israel’s Channel 13, citing Western intelligence sources, reported that the Israeli intelligence service Mossad was behind Sunday’s blackout at Natanz.

Natanz suffered a mysterious explosion in July that authorities later described as sabotage. Israel, Iran’s regional archenemy, has been suspected of carrying out an attack there, as well as launching other assaults, as world powers now negotiate with Tehran in Vienna over its nuclear deal.

On Saturday, Iran announced it had launched a chain of 164 IR-6 centrifuges at the plant, injecting them with the uranium gas and beginning their rapid spinning. Officials also began testing the IR-9 centrifuge, which they say 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.

- With The Associated Press

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