Acts of Sabotage Will Not Hinder Iran's Civilian Nuclear Program

Acts of Sabotage Will Not Hinder Iran's Civilian Nuclear Program
Acts of Sabotage Will Not Hinder Iran's Civilian Nuclear Program

Iran’s top atomic chief said the Islamic Republic’s civilian nuclear program will not be disrupted by acts of sabotage, after a cyberattack caused a power outage and damaged a number of centrifuges at Natanz enrichment site.
“The enemies should know that after every sabotage raid, we will not only restore the previous situation, but will also improve to a higher level,” Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, was quoted as saying by ISNA. 
In the early hours of Sunday morning, the underground Natanz facility suffered an electrical disruption in what was widely speculated to be an Israeli cyberattack. Iran said the attack did not cause any casualties and lead to radioactive pollution, although it damaged first generation centrifuge machines.
Salehi confirmed that the electrical disruption was a deliberate act of sabotage, calling it “nuclear terrorism”.
He said, however, that enrichment activities at the Natanz facility have not been interrupted and are currently continuing. 
Emergency power systems have been activated and the normal electricity supply will be reconnected in a few days, according to the nuclear official. 
He also said the damaged centrifuges were chiefly of the first generation IR-1 type that are more vulnerable to outages, adding that they will be replaced by similar types, but with improvements that would boost their efficiency by 50%.
Western reports have speculated that the attack has potentially set back enrichment work in Natanz by nine months. 
Salehi rejected the claim, saying a major part of the damage would be repaired within a few days. 



Opponents of Nuclear Talks  

The attack came hours after Iran inaugurated new nuclear projects on its National Nuclear Technology Day, including advanced centrifuges at Natanz.
It also occurred amid diplomatic efforts to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers, after former US president. Donald Trump. abandoned it three years ago and Iran reciprocated by surpassing the limits of the accord. 
Negotiations are ongoing in Vienna, Austria, between Iran and the remaining members who will separately talk with the US, to work out a feasible process for Washington’s sanctions lifting and Tehran’s full nuclear implementation. 
The meetings have been described as constructive by the participants, much to the dismay of Israel, a fierce opponent of the agreement.
Salehi said the measure indicated the failure of those who oppose Iran’s industrial and political development, and attempt to hamper the country’s outstanding nuclear progress as well as successful negotiations to revoke the illegal US sanctions.
“While condemning this desperate attempt and underlining the need for the international community and the International Atomic Energy Agency to counter nuclear terrorism, Iran reserves the right to take action against the perpetrators and backers of this attack,” he said, adding that the IAEA has been informed of the incident. 
The AEOI chief noted that to thwart the goals of the enemies, Iran will continue to both develop its nuclear technology and work toward the removal of cruel sanctions.   



Israeli Role

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif explicitly blamed Israel on Monday, saying “the Zionists want to take revenge because of our progress in the way to lift sanctions”.
“They have publicly said that they will not allow this. But we will take our revenge against the Zionists,” he said. 
Israel has not formally commented on the incident, but multiple Israeli media outlets have quoted unnamed intelligence sources as saying the country’s Mossad spy service carried out the sabotage operation.
At a ceremony on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made no direct reference to Natanz, but said: “The fight against Iran’s nuclearization ... is a massive task.” 
There have been sporadic episodes of sabotage and outages at Iranian nuclear installations for over a decade, for which Tehran has blamed Israel, which regards the Iranian nuclear program as a menace to its existence.
In 2010, the Stuxnet computer virus, widely believed to have been developed by the United States and Israel, was discovered after it was used to attack Natanz, causing damaging breakdowns of centrifuge cascades that refine uranium.
In July last year, a fire broke out at Natanz that Iran said was an attempt to sabotage its enrichment activity.
Iran also accused Israel of responsibility for last November’s ambush that killed top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied involvement.

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