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Iran blames Israel for nuclear plant outage, pledges revenge

Deepening rift: A satellite view of Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility, south of the capital Tehran.  

Iran blamed Israel on Monday for a sabotage attack on its underground Natanz nuclear facility that damaged its centrifuges and vowed it would take “revenge”.

Israel has not claimed responsibility for the attack. It rarely does for operations carried out by its secret military units or its Mossad intelligence agency. However, Israeli media widely reported that the country had orchestrated a devastating cyberattack that caused a blackout at the nuclear facility.

While the extent of the damage at Natanz remains unclear, a former Iranian official said the assault set off a fire while a spokesman mentioned a “possible minor explosion.”

The attack also further strains relations between the U.S., which under President Joe Biden is now negotiating in Vienna to re-enter the nuclear accord, and Israel, whose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to stop the deal at all costs.

“My policy as Prime Minister of Israel is clear: I will never allow Iran to obtain the nuclear capability to carry out its genocidal goal of eliminating Israel,” Mr. Netanyahu said. “And Israel will continue to defend itself against Iran’s terrorism.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, meanwhile, warned Natanz would be reconstructed with more advanced machines. That would allow Iran to more quickly enrich uranium, complicating the nuclear talks.

Emergency power

“The Zionists wanted to take revenge against the Iranian people for their success on the path of lifting sanctions,” Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency quoted Mr. Zairf as saying. “But we do not allow (it), and we will take revenge for this action against the Zionists.”

Officials launched an effort on Monday to provide emergency power to Natanz, said Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s civilian nuclear programme. He said the sabotage had not stopped enrichment there, without elaborating.

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Printable version | May 18, 2021 2:16:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/iran-blames-israel-for-nuclear-plant-outage-pledges-revenge/article34305366.ece

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