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Speaking to Iran parliament’s national security and foreign policy commission on Monday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blamed Israel for the attack on its largest nuclear enrichment facility at Natanz on Sunday. The electric grid at the Natanz facility suffered a blackout on Sunday causing damages to its production capability. He vowed to reply to the Zionist regime with “further nuclear progress.”
The Iranian government called it an act of “nuclear terrorism” on Sunday and appealed to the world community to deal with it in a decisive manner.
Though Iranian officials had initially claimed that the blackout did not cause any substantial physical and environmental damage, Israeli media reported that the attack caused “massive damage” and set back Iran’s nuclear enrichment ability by at least 9 months.
Head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi on Sunday termed the blackout an act by “opponents of the country’s industrial and political advancements” who have also failed to prevent Iranian “nuclear industry’s significant development”. He also termed the attack as part of the larger move to obstruct the talks to revive the Iran nuclear deal.
Iran and remaining signatories of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) met last week in Vienna in order to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. The deal was facing an uncertain fate due to Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from it in 2018.
Israeli Kan Radio had reported that the country’s secret agency Mossad carried out the attacks to sabotage the nuclear facility, Reuters reported. The New York Times had also reported on the Israeli role in the incident.
Israel’s open threats
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently stated that “the Iran deal threatens Israel’s existence and it will not be bound by it”. He had warned in February this year that Israel will prevent Iran from getting nuclear technology “with or without” the nuclear agreement.
Israel, itself a nuclear power, has been opposing Iran’s nuclear program alleging that it is a disguise for making nuclear weapons. Iran has always denied such allegations claiming its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
Israel’s hostilities against Iran have increased recently following the election of Joe Biden administration in the US which has expressed its intention to re-join the JCPOA which allows Iran to carry forward its peaceful nuclear program.
Israel had opposed the deal and was considered as one of the major players behind Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal in 2018 and impose numerous unilateral sanctions on Iran.
The facility was also reportedly attacked in July last year when an explosion was reported in an under construction shed at its complex.
Last year, Iran had claimed Israel was responsible for the assassination of its top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in November in an attack. In recent weeks two Iranian ships have also been attacked in the region.