News ID: 302095
Published: 0219 GMT April 12, 2021

Israel 'of course' behind ‘terrorism act’ against Natanz: Iran

Israel 'of course' behind ‘terrorism act’ against Natanz: Iran

Zarif says Tehran won’t allow attack to affect Vienna talks

EU 'rejects any attempts' to undermine diplomatic efforts

International Desk

Iran on Monday pointed the finger at Israel for sabotaging Natanz nuclear site and vowed revenge for an attack.

The Natanz site in central Iran was struck by a power outage on Sunday that Tehran labelled “nuclear terrorism". No one was injured and there was no radiation release, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said.

Last week, Iran and the remaining parties to the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA,  held what they described as "constructive" talks to salvage the accord, which has been unravelling since former US president Donald Trump abandoned it three years ago and reimposed harsh sanctions on Tehran. 

His successor Joe Biden wants to revive the agreement, which places limits on the Iran’s nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions, AFP wrote.

Iran has blamed Israel's Mossad spy service for previous attacks on its nuclear facilities and experts – including the assassination last November of its top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

Iranian authorities said Tehran reserved the right to take action against the perpetrators.


Iran won’t fall in Israeli trap

On Monday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blamed Israel.

Zarif said that Tehran would not allow the attack to affect the Vienna talks, and would avoid "falling in the trap" set by Israel, IRNA reported.

"The Zionists want to take revenge because of our progress in the way to lift sanctions...They have publicly said that they will not allow this. But we will take our revenge against the Zionists," Zarif said.

Multiple Israeli media outlets have quoted unnamed intelligence sources as saying the Mossad carried out a sabotage operation at the Natanz complex. Israel has not formally commented on the incident, Reuters reported.


Iran to take revenge

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh also said Monday it was clear the latest incident too was an Israeli act of sabotage.

"Of course the Zionist regime, with this action, tried to take revenge on the people of Iran for their patience and wise attitude regarding the lifting of sanctions," he told a press conference.

Khatibzadeh vowed that Iran's response would be to take "revenge on the Zionist regime" when and where it chooses.

“Israel will receive its answer through its own path,” he said. 

"If the purpose was to interrupt the path of lifting the oppressive sanctions against Iran, they will certainly not reach their goal."

Iran's semi-official Nournews website said the person who caused an electricity outage in one of the production halls at the uranium enrichment plant had been identified. "Necessary measures are being taken to arrest this person," the website reported.


Emergency power launched

The Natanz blackout came a day after Iran started up advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges.

In a televised ceremony marking Iran's National Nuclear Technology Day, President Hassan Rouhani inaugurated a cascade of 164 IR-6 centrifuges for producing enriched uranium, as well as two test cascades of 30 IR-5 and 30 IR-6S devices respectively.

"All of the centrifuges that went out of circuit at Natanz site were of the IR-1 type," Khatibzadeh said, referring to Iran's first generation of enrichment machines more vulnerable to outages.

"Our nuclear experts are assessing the damage but I can assure you that Iran will replace damaged uranium enrichment centrifuges in Natanz with advanced ones."

AEOI chief Ali Akbar Salehi said on Monday emergency power was launched at Natanz. He said the sabotage had not stopped enrichment there.

Modernized centrifuges can refine uranium to higher fissile purity at a much faster rate.

There have been sporadic episodes of sabotage at Iranian nuclear installations for over a decade, for which Tehran has blamed Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday made no direct reference to Natanz, though said: "The fight against Iran's a massive task."

In 2010, the Stuxnet computer virus, widely believed to have been developed by the United States and Israel, was discovered after it was used to attack Natanz.

In July last year, a fire broke out at Natanz that Iran said was an attempt by Israel to sabotage its enrichment activity.


EU warning

Nuclear talks would resume on Wednesday in Vienna with Iran meeting representatives of France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China as well as the European Union. A US team will also be present in the Austrian capital but no talks will take place between Washington and Tehran there.

Diplomatic headway has been made, delegates said on Friday. Iran insists all US sanctions its oil-based economy must be lifted at once first before it stops accelerating enrichment and restores caps on the process.

The EU on Monday warned against attempts to derail nuclear talks.

EU spokesman Peter Stano said the reported incident "could have been an act of sabotage" but insisted that there had been no official attribution over who was responsible.

"We still need to clarify the facts in detail as quickly as possible," he said, adding: "We reject any attempts to undermine or weaken diplomatic efforts on the nuclear agreement."

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Monday the negotiations in Vienna "will not be easy but until now, there has been a constructive spirit" shown by participants.



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