Iran announces ‘incident’ at Natanz nuclear plant

April 11, 2021 - 13:53

TEHRAN – Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), announced on Sunday that an “incident” has occurred at the Natanz nuclear plant affecting the plant’s electrical grid. 

He said the incident happened on Sunday early morning and it did not lead to human casualties or pollution.

“The causes of the incident are being investigated and will be announced subsequently,” the spokesman told Fars News.

Last year in early July, a mysterious explosion shook the plant. Later on, Kamalvandi announced that the explosion that occurred at the Natanz nuclear facility on July 2 was an “act of sabotage.”

“Security investigations confirm the sabotage [nature] of this action and what is certain is that an explosion took place in Natanz,” he said.

The latest incident at Natanz coincided with the National Day of Nuclear Technology in Iran. On Saturday, Iran announced 133 nuclear achievements and a series of nuclear measures in what amounted to a new leap in Iran’s march toward achieving advanced, peaceful nuclear technology. At a ceremony held to commemorate the nuclear day, President Hassan Rouhani issued a presidential order instructing nuclear authorities to start using the announced achievements.

“Design, construction and commissioning of the second phase of industrial production units in Arak, design, and construction of spin test machine, construction and assembly of the first prototype of the IR9S and IR9-1B centrifuges, and design and construction of 3D laser printing of metals are some of the projects that were inaugurated today,” according to a statement issued by the Iranian presidency.

In addition, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) began injecting gas into a complete chain of 164 IR6 centrifuge machines, inaugurated a station purifying the Uranium Hexafluoride input in the Natanz enrichment facility, and operated an assembly line manufacturing new machinery at the Ahmadi Roshan nuclear facility, according to the Tasnim news agency.

As of Sunday noon, there were no further details about the Natanz incident. But an Iranian lawmaker suggested that it could be another act of sabotage. 

“This incident, which occurred on the anniversary of the National Day of Nuclear Technology and during Iran's efforts to force the West to lift sanctions, is highly suspected of being sabotage and infiltration,” Malek Shariati, spokesman for the Iranian Parliament’s Energy Committee, said on Twitter, noting that the parliament is following the matter and will make announcement after the conclusion. 

The lawmaker was commenting on a tweet by Ali Samadzadeh, an Iranian expert on international affairs, in which he said that “disrupting the electrical grid of the Natanz nuclear site has been one of the methods of sabotage in this strategic facility of the country for many years, and a solution must be found to eliminate and prevent it.”

“This chronic pain should be cured,” Samadzadeh said.

However, Kamalvandi told state TV that there was no sufficient information about the incident being an act of sabotage and that further investigations are needed to determine the cause of the incident. 

Natanz has been at the center of Western allegations against Iran. International inspectors have been regularly visiting the facility following the signing of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

SM/PA
 

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