Iran refuses to disclose cause of fire at Natanz nuclear site | Iran News

Iranian investigators have determined the cause of a fire at the Natanz nuclear plant, a spokesman for Iran’s top security body said on Friday, while refusing to immediately release details of the findings for “security reasons.”

The National Security Council statement came when Gholamreza Jalali, Iran’s chief of civil defense, told state television that Tehran would retaliate against any country that carries out cyber attacks on its nuclear sites.

The Reuters News Agency, citing three Iranian officials, said the Natanz fire, which occurred early on Thursday, was caused by cyber sabotage.

But Reuters said officials did not offer evidence to back up the claim.

The largely underground Natanz uranium enrichment site is one of several Iranian facilities monitored by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog.

The Iranian Atomic Energy Organization initially reported that an “incident” had occurred early Thursday in Natanz, located in the desert in the central province of Isfahan. She later posted a photo of a single-story brick building with partially burned roof and walls.

A door hanging from its hinges suggested that there had been an explosion inside the building.

The IAEA said that none of its inspectors was in Natanz at the time of the fire and that “the place where the incident occurred does not contain nuclear material.”

‘The Cheetah of the Fatherland’

Keyvan Khosravi, a spokesman for the National Security Council, told the IRNA news agency on Friday night that experts have “determined the main cause of the incident,” but “it will be declared in due course for security reasons.”

The mystery surrounding the incident was deepened after the BBC reported that an unknown group called “Cheetah of the Homeland” claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement sent to journalists from the Persian network service before news of the fire were made public.

A video claimed that the group included “soldiers from the heart of the regime’s security organizations” who wanted to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Iran has long maintained that its atomic program is for peaceful purposes.

At the same time, the Iranian media suspects the incident in the United States and Israel.

In an article published Thursday, IRNA addressed what it called the possibility of sabotage, although it did not directly accuse the United States or Israel.

“So far, Iran has tried to avoid escalating crises and the formation of unpredictable conditions and situations,” IRNA said. “But the crossing of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s red lines by hostile countries, especially the Zionist regime and the United States, means that the strategy … should be reviewed.”

In 2010, the Stuxnet computer virus, widely believed to have been developed by the US and Israel, was discovered after it was used to attack Natanz’s facilities.

Later Thursday, Jalali told state television that “if our country is shown to have been the target of a cyber attack, we will respond.”

Natanz is the centerpiece of Iran’s enrichment program, which Tehran says is for peaceful purposes only. Western intelligence agencies and the IAEA believe it had a clandestine, coordinated nuclear weapons program that it stopped in 2003.

Tehran denies seeking nuclear weapons.

Iran activates nuclear deal dispute mechanism

Iran halted its nuclear work in exchange for the removal of most global sanctions under an agreement reached with six world powers in 2015, but has reduced compliance with the agreement’s restrictions since the President of the United States, Donald Trump retired in 2018.

The IAEA also released two reports this year blaming Iran for not answering questions about nuclear activities prior to its 2015 deal at three sites and for denying access to two of them.

According to Reuters, the UK, France and Germany submitted a draft resolution to the IAEA on June 10 asking Iran to provide access to specified locations.

The three European countries consider the nuclear deal to be a cornerstone of regional and global security and have fought to keep it alive from the United States movement. They have established a parallel system to try to keep funds flowing to Iran as its economy weakens.

Separately, on Friday, IRNA reported that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif activated a dispute resolution mechanism in the 2015 deal, attributing the move to Germany, France and the UK’s “non-compliance” to its side of the deal as well as a European boost. to rebuke Iran at the IAEA for its refusal to grant access to inspectors at its nuclear sites.

The dispute mechanism provides for a period of approximately one month, which can be extended if all parties agree, to resolve any disagreement.

Failure to comply with an agreement could lead to the suspension of UN sanctions against Iran.

On January 15, Europeans activated the agreement’s dispute resolution mechanism to compel Iran to discuss possible violations of the agreement, as Tehran appeared to back down and refused to be bound by its uranium enrichment limits.

Later they suspended the action.