Iran nuclear incident at Natanz facility a 'terrorist action,' nuclear chief says

Akbar Salehi, head of the organization, said: “Today’s attack shows that the enemies of Iran’s progress and progress in nuclear science and the nuclear negotiations are desperate for terrorist acts against nuclear technology in Natanz [nuclear facility]”reported the IRGC, a branch of the Iranian Armed Forces.

Salehi also said: “Iran reserves the right to react against the perpetrators and those who committed the terrorist act,” the IRGC reported.

On the previous Sunday, Iranian officials confirmed an “incident” in Natanz, a day after the government announced that it would commission more than 150 new uranium enrichment centrifuges at the underground facility.

“Fortunately, the incident did not cause any human injury or leakage,” said Behrouz Kamalvand, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization. “The causes of the accident are being investigated and more information will be given later.”

In reports from local news outlets, other Iranian officials suggested the facility may have been attacked and speculated that the facility may have been targeted as the country discussed a revival of the Iranian nuclear deal with its Western signatories. Former US President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the deal.

Malek Shariati Niaser, a member of the Iranian parliament, said: “The power outage in Natanz on the anniversary of National Nuclear Day is suspect and may be the result of sabotage while Iran is trying to convince western countries to lift the sanctions.” official news website reports.

A spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency told CNN on Sunday by email that the agency had been informed of the media reports.

“We currently have no comment,” he said.

During the 15th anniversary of Iran’s National Nuclear Technology Day on Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced new uranium enrichment centrifuges at the plant, stating that while Iran’s nuclear activities are “peaceful and civil”, the country’s nuclear capabilities are stronger than all other time before.

“A chain of 164 IR-6 centrifuges was launched today,” said Rouhani on Saturday, according to state Press TV. “It can give us ten times more products than the previous chain.”

The Natanz nuclear power plant lost a building when a fire broke out last July. The Iranian government said at the time that it was an attack on its nuclear program. It was also the target of the 2010 Stuxnet cyberattack that security experts believe was carried out by Israel and the United States.

Talks between Iran and other signatories to the Iranian nuclear deal were concluded in Vienna this week. US officials were also in Vienna and met with representatives of the world powers who are still involved in the deal. You have not met with Iranian officials directly.

Trump imposed new sanctions on Iran when he withdrew the country from the deal. Iranian officials have claimed that the US must lift all Trump-era sanctions and return to the nuclear deal before resuming compliance.