Iran blames Israel for Natanz nuclear plant outage, vows revenge
Iran blamed Israel for a sabotage attack on its underground Natanz nuclear facility that damaged centrifuges it uses to enrich uranium, warning that it would avenge the assault.
Israel has not claimed responsibility for the attack. However, suspicion fell immediately on it as Israeli media widely reported that the country had orchestrated a devastating cyberattack that caused the blackout.
Sunday’s assault and foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh’s comments blaming Israel could imperil ongoing talks in Vienna about saving a tattered deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program, an accord Israel fiercely opposed.
The event that Iran labeled as “nuclear terrorism” was initially described as a blackout caused by the electrical grid feeding its above-ground workshops and underground enrichment halls. No one was injured and there was no radiation release, Iran said.
“The answer for Natanz is to take revenge against Israel,” Khatibzadeh said. “Israel will receive its answer through its own path.”
Khatibzadeh acknowledged that IR-1 centrifuges, the first-generation workhorse of Iran’s uranium enrichment, had been damaged in the attack.
Iran’s semi-official Nournews website said the person who caused an electricity outage in one of the production halls at the underground uranium enrichment plant had been identified. “Necessary measures are being taken to arrest this person,” the website reported, without giving details about the person.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif separately warned Natanz would be reconstructed with more advanced machines.
“The Zionists want to take revenge because of our progress in the way to lift sanctions ... We will not fall into their trap ... We will not allow this act of sabotage to affect the nuclear talks,” Zarif was quoted by state TV as saying.