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  • Iran's Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi (R) speaks with Designated Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi (C) upon his arrival at the Imam Khomeini International airport. Tehran, Iran. August 24, 2020.

    Iran's Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi (R) speaks with Designated Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi (C) upon his arrival at the Imam Khomeini International airport. Tehran, Iran. August 24, 2020. | Photo: EFE/EPA/Iran Atomic Organization Office

Published 24 August 2020
Opinion

Iran's top nuclear body announced that last month's fire was provoked by an external explosion, linking the sabotage to Israel.  

The July 2nd fire at Iran's largest uranium enrichment facility, the Natanz nuclear plant, just 150 miles south of Tehran, caused severe damage to its central centrifuge assembly workshop, temporarily affecting production.

Without directly accusing Israel or the United States of responsibility, Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO), linked the Natanz fire to Israeli sabotage, which damaged one of the warehouses under construction where uranium is enriched.

Iran Announces It Abandons Nuclear Deal Limits

Iranian authorities confirmed that uranium enrichment was not seriously affected and that the plant remains operational. The spokesman, who avoided naming the individuals directly responsible for the sabotage, said last month that the Persian nation would replace the damaged building with more advanced equipment, but recognized the fire would slow down production and development in the medium term.

In past weeks other Iranian officials have alleged the attacks were the result of cyber-sabotage and that Tehran would retaliate against any countries carrying out such attacks.

Despite the 2015 nuclear deal, from which U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States last year, Iran announced in November 2019 that it would double the number of advanced centrifuges operating at Natanz, indication that Iran would roll back its commitments in the face of increased U.S. sanctions and abandonment of the accords.
 
Iran's declarations coincide with the visit Monday of Rafael Grossi, the new director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to the Iranian capital, to request access to two "suspected" former nuclear sites. Iran, which insists its nuclear program is not for military use, also denies any link between Grossi's visit and recent moves by the United States at the UN Security Council to reimpose stricter sanctions on the country.
 
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