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Iran blames Israel for sabotage at nuclear facility

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A top official in Iran blamed Israel on Monday for a sabotage attack at its underground Natanz nuclear facility in what Tehran called an act of “nuclear terrorism.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh represented the first official accusation leveled against Israel for the incident Sunday that cut power across the facility.

Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, reportedly appeared on the country’s State TV and blamed the “Zionists” that seek to “take revenge because of our progress in the way to lift sanctions…they have publically said that they will not allow this. But we will take our revenge from the Zionists.”

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The New York Times reported that the Natanz nuclear facility suffered from a power failure that seemed to have been caused by an intentional explosion. The paper said that Israel declined to comment on the reported attack. The Times reported that officials from the U.S. and Israel confirmed an Israeli role.

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The Jerusalem Post reported that Iran boasted on Saturday that it was operating advanced centrifuges at the facility.

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The alleged attack also complicates efforts by the U.S., Israel’s main security partner, to re-enter the atomic accord aimed at limiting Tehran’s program so it can’t pursue a nuclear weapon.

As news of the blackout emerged, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin landed Sunday in Israel for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

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Ali Vaez, the Iran project director at the International Crisis Group, told the Times, “It’s hard to imagine that it was a cyberattack.The likely scenario is that it either targeted the facility indirectly or through physical infiltration.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report 

 

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