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Iran Accuses Israel of 'Perpetrating' Incident at Nuclear Facility

By Orkhan Jalilov April 12, 2021

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Centrifuge machines at the Natanz nuclear site in the Iranian central province of Isfahan. / EPA

Iranian top officials have accused Israel of perpetrating the recent incident where several centrifuges were damaged at the Natanz nuclear site.

"This incident, fortunately, did not cause any damage to human lives or the environment. However, it could have been a catastrophe. This is a crime against humanity, and carrying out such actions is in line with the essence of the Zionist regime," Iran’s Foreign Ministry's Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in the news conference on April 12, according to the Iranian Students News Agency.

"If this adventure is aimed at limiting Iran's nuclear capacity, I should announce that it will have the opposite effect. All centrifuges were IR1 and now they will be replaced by advanced centrifuges," Khatibzadeh added.

Earlier, Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation (AEOI) Spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said that an incident happened at the electrical power distributing network of the Ahmadi Roshan enrichment facility in Natanz on the morning of April 11.

"Fortunately, the incident caused no casualties or pollution," Kamalvandi said, adding that the cause of the incident is under investigation and additional information will be announced later. 

Meanwhile, Iran’s Tasnim news agency reported, Kamalvandi was injured in the incident during his visit to Natanz nuclear facility.

The head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi, described the incident at the nuclear facility as an act of "nuclear terrorism", saying that "condemning this despicable move, the Islamic Republic of Iran emphasizes the need for the international community and the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] to deal with this nuclear terrorism."

Moreover, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on April 12 that Israel "wants to take revenge for the successes achieved towards the lifting of oppressive sanctions," and added that Iran "won't allow it and will take revenge for these moves against the Zionists themselves."

"Political and military officials of the Zionist regime have frankly said that they will not allow progress in lifting oppressive sanctions and now they assume they have succeeded, but the Zionists will receive a response in the form of more nuclear advancements," Zarif said.

An Iranian MP and spokesperson for the Majlis Energy Committee, Malek Shariati-Niyasar, suggested "sabotage and infiltration" as possible reasons for the incident, saying that the "incident happening on the anniversary of National Nuclear Technology Day and during the process of Iran's efforts to force the Westerners to lift the sanctions is very suspicious."

On April 10, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani unveiled 133 new nuclear achievements in the provinces of Tehran, Markazi, Isfahan, Alborz and Qom, including major projects like the production of IR-9 and IR-9S new-generation centrifuges, on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the National Nuclear Technology Day.

Following Rouhani's orders, Iranian experts began injecting gas to a new generation of centrifuges at the Natanz enrichment facility. Iran also started the mechanical testing of IR-9 centrifuges and launched an assembly line for its new generation of centrifuges. 

These nuclear achievements made by the Iranian experts in different areas of the nuclear industry include quantum, enrichment, heavy water and deuterium compounds, radiopharmaceuticals, lasers, and etc, according to Press TV.

However, Natanz has been targeted by sabotage in the past. The Stuxnet computer virus, discovered in 2010 and widely believed to be a joint US-Israeli creation, once disrupted and destroyed Iranian centrifuges at Natanz. The nuclear facility suffered a mysterious explosion at its advanced centrifuge assembly plant in July 2020 that authorities later described as sabotage. Iran also blamed Israel for the killing of a scientist in November 2020 who began the country’s military nuclear program decades earlier. 

Several Israeli media outlets reported on April 11 that an Israeli cyber attack caused a blackout in Natanz. Israeli public broadcaster Kan claimed the Mossad was behind the attack.