Iranian Nuclear Site Crippled in ‘Very Suspicious’ Incident

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Suspicion flew across the Middle East on Sunday after an Iranian nuclear facility lost power.

Malek Shariati Niasar, an Iranian lawmaker, called the incident at the Natanz underground facility “very suspicious,” according to the New York Post.

He further suggested “sabotage and infiltration” as causes of the blackout.

The blackout came as the site began operating advanced centrifuges that could enrich uranium faster, according to The Associated Press.

The AP reported that multiple Israeli media sources suggested a cyberattack was responsible for the blackout and noted that some Israeli media outlets are closely aligned with military and intelligence agencies.

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The Jerusalem Post reported that, “Western sources claimed that the facility was hit by a cyber attack,” and that “Natanz has in the past been targeted by Israeli cyber operations, according to foreign reports.”

The report noted that, “In 2010, the Stuxnet virus attacked the facility in a joint operation with the United States, destroying over 1,000 centrifuges.”

The facility was also attacked in July of 2020 when an explosion at its advanced centrifuge assembly plant damaged the facility, the Jerusalem Post reported. The explosion was later described as sabotage by an Iranian official.

Iranian spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said the blackout stopped all parts of the facility from operating, according to NBC News.

“We still do not know the reason for this electricity outage and have to look into it further,” Kamalvandi said. “Fortunately, there was no casualty or damage and there is no particular contamination or problem.”

Asked by Iranian state TV if there was a “technical defect or sabotage,” Kamalvandi did not comment.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors Iran’s program, said it was “aware of the media reports,” and declined to comment also.

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“It’s hard for me to believe it’s a coincidence,” said Yoel Guzansky, a senior fellow at Tel Aviv’s Institute for National Security Studies, according to the AP.

“If it’s not a coincidence, and that’s a big if, someone is trying to send a message that ‘we can limit Iran’s advance and we have red lines,'” he said.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Sunday said Israel views the U.S. as an essential ally.

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“The Tehran of today poses a strategic threat to international security, to the entire Middle East and to the state of Israel,” Gantz said. “And we will work closely with our American allies to ensure that any new agreement with Iran will secure the vital interests of the world, of the United States, prevent a dangerous arms race in our region, and protect the state of Israel.”

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