‘Accident’ at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility after centrifuge activation

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An “accident” occurred in the electricity distribution network at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility on Sunday morning, Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran told the Iranian Fars News Agency on Sunday.

No injuries or pollution were caused by the incident, Kamalvandi said, adding that the cause of the incident is under investigation and further information will be announced later.On Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that Iran had begun injecting uranium hexaflouride gas into advanced IR-6 and IR- 5 centrifuges at Natanz.
The reported incident comes less than a month after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran had restarted enrichment at the Natanz facility and less than a year after Israel was blamed by foreign reports for an alleged attack on the facility which reportedly significantly impacted Iran’s nuclear program.In the alleged attack last year, Iranian reports originally referred to the explosion as an “incident” without providing further details.

“The centrifuge assembly hall was blown up by the enemy a few months ago, but we did not stop and temporarily set up the hall that made up for the lost hall,” said Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the AEO, on Saturday, according to Fars. Salehi did not specify which “enemy” was behind the attack last year.

Salehi added that Iran is working to move sensitive facilities at Natanz further underground, with hopes that new underground halls will be ready next year.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is set to arrive in Israel on Sunday to discuss Iran’s nuclear program and Iranian activity in the region, among other issues, with Israeli officials. This will be the first visit of a high-ranking official of the Biden administration in Israel.

Israel has worked to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program in the past, including the Stuxnet cyberattack discovered in 2010, which targeted Iran’s nuclear centrifuges and was blamed on Israel and the US.

The incident also comes as tensions rise between Israel and Iran amid a number of attacks on Iranian and Israeli maritime vessels, with recent reports claiming that Israel has hit dozens of Iranian ships in recent years.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Iranian military blamed Israel and the US for causing an explosion on the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Saviz vessel in the Red Sea in a statement to Sputnik news on Thursday.

“The United States undoubtedly has a hand in all attempts to undermine and harm Iran,” said the spokesman, adding that Iran was not accusing any of the Gulf states of being involved in the incident.

The report also comes as Iran meets with European and American officials to discuss a possible return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name for the nuclear agreement signed in 2015 between the Islamic Republic and world powers.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned multiple times in the past week that Israel would defend itself against Iranian threats, stressing that Israel would work to combat Iran’s nuclear ambitions.





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