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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — 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 continue to negotiate over its tattered nuclear deal.
Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, stopped short of directly blaming anyone for the incident. Details remained few about what happened early Sunday morning at the facility, which initially was described as a blackout caused by the electrical grid feeding the site.
Many Israeli media outlets offered the same assessment that a cyberattack darkened Natanz and damaged a facility that is home to sensitive centrifuges. While the reports offered no sourcing for the evaluation, Israeli media maintains a close relationship with the country’s military and intelligence agencies.
If Israel caused the blackout, it further heightens tensions between the two nations, already engaged in a shadow conflict across the wider Middle East.
“To thwart the goals of this terrorist movement, the Islamic…
A blackout at an Iranian atomic site has been described as "nuclear terrorism" by officials, raising tensions in the region.
It happened at the Natanz facility, 125 miles (200km) south of Tehran, which had just fired up advanced centrifuges which can enrich uranium more quickly, according to state media.
Uranium is enriched for use in nuclear power and nuclear weapons.
Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, did not directly blame anyone for the incident.
"To thwart the goals of this terrorist movement, the Islamic Republic of Iran will continue to seriously improve nuclear technology on the one hand and to lift oppressive sanctions on the other hand," Mr Salehi said, according state TV.
He added: "While condemning this desperate move, the Islamic Republic of Iran emphasises the need for a confrontation by the international bodies and the (International Atomic Energy Agency) against this nuclear terrorism."
Power was cut across the plant's above-ground workshops and underground enrichment halls, nuclear programme spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said earlier on Sunday.
"Here the power has been cut off indeed, and we do not know…
The head of Iran’s atomic energy agency has described mysterious power outage at the country’s main uranium enrichment facility as an act of “nuclear terrorism” by opponents of a diplomatic solution to disagreement’s over Iran’s nuclear programme.
Ali Akbar Salehi did not specify who might have been behind Sunday’s alleged attack on the Ahmadi Roshan facility, near Natanz, but he was likely referring to Israel.
Iran reserved the right to take action against the perpetrators, he told state television.
The sensitive site, in the centre of the country, lost its power supply one day after it was trumpeted by the president and other senior officials as part of an annual commemoration of the nation’s atomic technology achievements.
The alleged attack also came as US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Israel for talks with senior officials, and any alleged operation will likely be seen in the region as US endorsement, even though Washington likely had little do with it.
Iran and the US are struggling to resurrect a 2015 nuclear deal that placed limits on Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for relief from international sanctions. Former president Donald Trump abandoned the deal in 2018 and…