Iran’s Top Nuclear Official Calls Major Malfunction at Natanz Facility, Attributed to Israel, an Act of ‘Nuclear Terrorism’
Iran, one of the foremost state sponsors of terrorism in the world, claimed that a major malfunction at its nuclear facility in Natanz early Sunday — believed to be the result of an Israeli cyber-attack — was a “terrorist act” and that Iran would retaliate.
“To thwart the goals of this terrorist movement, the Islamic Republic of Iran will continue to seriously improve nuclear technology on the one hand and to lift oppressive sanctions on the other hand,” said Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, according to state TV.
He added that “while condemning this desperate move, the Islamic Republic of Iran emphasizes the need for a confrontation by the international bodies and the (International Atomic Energy Agency) against this nuclear terrorism.”
A member of Iran’s parliament said earlier in the day that it was “highly likely” that the damage was the result of “sabotage,” but did not elaborate, Israeli news site N12 reported.
Western intelligence agencies believe that the malfunction was caused by a massive cyber-attack intended to shut down entire systems at the nuclear facility. The damage was reportedly substantial and shut down the facility’s operations, though there were no casualties.
Similar incidents, both cyber and not, have occurred in the past and have been widely attributed to Israel, though the Jewish state maintains strategic ambiguity on the issue.
Last July, a mysterious explosion took place at the Natanz facility, and though Iran did not explicitly blame Israel, it pledged to take revenge, effectively admitting that the incident was the result of sabotage.
On Sunday morning, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi did not address the Natanz incident directly, but warned that Israel is “on guard with improved offensive capability, which at any moment is ready to turn from an exercise into a real operation.”
“We will continue to act with power and discretion, with determination and responsibility, in order to ensure the security of the State of Israel,” he pledged.