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Iran says it foiled sabotage attempt at a nuclear facility

An attempt to sabotage one of the facilities of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization failed Wednesday, according to local media reports.

The ISNA news agency reported that the unspecified threat was “neutralized before it damaged the building, and the saboteurs failed to carry out their plan.”

The report credited the “vigilance” of Iran’s security apparatuses in foiling the attack and said the incident was being investigated.

ISNA said the building was located near Karaj City, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of the capital of Tehran.

The website of state-owned IRAN newspaper published the same report without offering the location or other details. Iranian state TV carried the report on its news ticker.

Numerous explosions have been reported over the past few years in complexes vital to Iran’s nuclear program and its energy and military sectors. Some of the incidents have been said to stem from technical malfunctions, while others have been blamed by the Islamic Republic on its enemies, including the US and Israel.

Israel, which has vowed to prevent Iran attaining nuclear weapons, had no official comment on the Iranian reports Wednesday.

On April 11, Iran’s Natanz nuclear plant suffered a blast that blew up the main and backup power supply to the underground enrichment facility — an attack that Tehran pinned on Jerusalem.

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied involvement but media reports have since said it was a sabotage operation by the Mossad spy agency.

The blast caused damage to various kinds of the 6,000 centrifuges there and set back enrichment by six to nine months, according to Israeli and American reports.

In an unprecedetedly candid TV interview 12 days ago, Israel’s outgoing Mossad chief Yossi Cohen related to the Natanz blast but did not directly claim credit for it. More generally, he said:

“We say very clearly [to Iran]: We won’t let you get nuclear weapons. What don’t you understand?”

In response, Iran boosted its uranium enrichment to 60 percent. The step brings Iran closer to the 90% purity threshold for military use and shortens its potential “breakout time” to build an atomic bomb — a goal the Islamic Republic denies.

Earlier this week Iran’s southern Bushehr nuclear power plant was temporarily shut down over a “technical fault,” the country’s atomic energy body said. The statement said the plant will be reconnected to the grid and the issue will be resolved “in a few days,” but did not elaborate further.

Iran is holding discussions with world powers aimed at bringing the US and Tehran back to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

The deal was thrown into disarray in 2018 when former US president Donald Trump withdrew and reimposed sanctions, leading Iran, in turn, to step up its nuclear activities from 2019 onwards. Since taking office, US President Joe Biden has sought to bring the parties back into the accord.

Iran has always denied seeking a nuclear weapon, but as it dropped its commitments to the deal it began enriching uranium to levels that the International Atomic Energy Agency said are only sought by countries aiming to build a weapon.

Source: TOI and AP