DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Over the past decade, Iran’s nuclear program has been targeted by diplomatic efforts and subversive attacks. The latest incident hit Natanz’s underground facility.
The attack on Natanz on Sunday comes as world powers try to negotiate a return of the Iran-Tehran nuclear deal by Iran and the United States. The sabotage threatens to halt the talks and escalate regional tensions in the Middle East.
“KH ACE NUTRITIONS” To Distribution
Iran’s nuclear program actually began with the help of the United States. As part of its Atoms for Peace program, the United States supplied a test reactor that entered Tehran in 1967 under the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. That aid ended after the Islamic Revolution in Iran overthrew the interests.
In the 1990s, Iran expanded its program to include covert equipment from Pakistan’s leading nuclear scientist, Abdul Qadir Khan. Khan helped build Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, and its proliferation helped North Korea acquire today’s atomic bombs. Khan’s plans allowed Iran to build IR-1 centrifuges, which greatly enhance uranium enrichment.
Tehran insists its nuclear program is peaceful. However, in the “structural program” Iran “carried out operations related to the development of a nuclear explosive device” in late 2003, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. This is an assessment shared by US intelligence agencies և State Department. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long argued that Iran still has nuclear weapons.
The city of Natanz in the central Iranian province of Isfahan is home to the main uranium enrichment facility. Iran has one operating nuclear power plant in Bushehr, which opened in 2011. With the help of Russia. Iran has previously upgraded its Arak heavy water reactor to produce plutonium. Fordo enrichment site is excavated on the slope of the mountain. Tehran is still operating the Tehran Research Reactor.
DIPLOMACY FOR MISSING
Iran signed a nuclear deal in 2015 with the United States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia and China. The deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, sharply restricts uranium enrichment under the supervision of IAEA inspectors in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Small reserves of less enriched uranium prevented Iran from having enough material to build a nuclear bomb if it chose to.
Then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the 2018 agreement. The architects of the deal, which contained provisions that expire over time, said they hoped American officials could rely on it for future deals.
Since withdrawing from the United States, Iran has renounced all borders in the uranium enrichment deal. It rotates advanced centrifuges, increases its reserves, enriches up to 20% purity, which is a technical step from 90% of the weapons level.
President Biden, who took office in January, said he was ready to re-enter the nuclear deal. The countries began talks in Vienna last week, trying to find a way out. Israel, which under Netanyahu promised not to see a deal resumed, is widely suspected of stepping up its recent shadow campaign against Iran.
The head of Iran’s civilian nuclear program described the Natanz sabotage on Sunday as “nuclear terrorism.” But this marked only the latest attack on the Iranian program.
In the late 2000s, Natanz was the first to be the target of a major cyber attack. A virus called Stuxnet has attacked Natanz centrifuge control units, causing sensitive devices to spiral out of control and destroy them. Experts have widely attributed the attack to the United States, Israel, as well as Iran.
In July, Natanz was targeted for another sabotage attack. The blast tore off a leading centrifuge factory. After that, Iran announced that it would rebuild the place in the depths of the neighboring mountain. Satellite images show that the work is in progress. There were also widespread suspicions about Israel in connection with the bombing.
There have been a number of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists over the past decade. The killings involved bombings and shootings. The latest assassination saw the scientist who founded Iran’s nuclear program decades ago shot dead in November, which authorities described as a remote-controlled machine gun that later exploded. Iran also blames Israel for the killings.
SINGS WITH CENTERS
The extent of the damage to Nathanz remains unclear at this time. Iran still has to broadcast some image of the institution on state television. It is unclear whether any of the damage will be visible from the air, as its centrifuge halls are all underground. NASA fire satellites did not detect a visible explosion at the object on either Saturday or Sunday.
The long-term consequences for Iran’s nuclear program as a whole remain uncertain. If the attack stops the concussions in Nathan, they are still rolling on Fordo. The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, promised on Sunday to continue developing the country’s nuclear technology.
The sabotage is a sensitive moment for ousted President Hassan Rouhani, whose administration is trying to reverse its diplomatic gains through the Vienna talks. Due to the possibility of re-election for a limited time, the relatively moderate Rouhani will bow to the one who wins Iran’s upcoming presidential election in June.
If Iran fails to recoup the benefits of the deal, it could tighten tough lines within the Islamic Republic. Already, some media outlets on Monday demanded that Rouhani withdraw from the Vienna talks.
Nathan’s sabotage was later linked to Iran’s nuclear program by state television, which called on the country to resist external pressure. Prior to the sabotage, state television broadcast a scene showing men in white lab coats singing in Natanz silver centrifuges, some holding pictures of scientists killed in earlier assassinations.
“We are proud and victorious in science,” the men sang. “We believe in ourselves; we do not pin our hopes on foreigners.”
The singers were probably not nuclear scientists. Iran has carefully blurred their images since the assassination, worrying that they will be targeted again.
Follow Gam on Gambrelli on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.