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Power failure disrupts Iranian uranium enrichment activity at Natanz, sabotage suspected

On 11 April the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Behrouz Kamalvandi, reported an “accident” at the Natanz enrichment complex that compromised the “electricity distribution network” at the facility. He also confirmed that there were no “human injuries” or “pollution” due to the incident. Kamalvandi later confirmed that an explosion had occurred in one of the control rooms of the facility that only caused minor, insignificant structural damage.

Following the incident Ali Akbar Salehi, who heads the AEOI, called upon the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as well as the international community to take action against such incidents while referring to the episode as an act of “nuclear terrorism”.

Multiple news sources reported that Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, claimed that Israel was responsible for the incident at Natanz. Israel has not officially claimed responsibility for the incident, while on 12 April White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that “the US was not involved in any manner”. Zarif also added that in response to the incident Iran would replace the first-generation IR-1 centrifuges at the facility with advanced centrifuges that have significantly higher enrichment capacities. This would rebuild the leverage Tehran has during talks related to the internationally negotiated Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The extent of the damage done to Natanz’s enrichment capacity was not immediately clear. The New York Times reported that, based on statements from anonymous intelligence officials, it would take Tehran up to nine months to reinstate the facility’s production capacity, suggesting a significant structural attack on the facility’s power network by either physical or cyber means.

However, Iranian officials have maintained that Natanz’s production capacity is not severely compromised. On 12 April Salehi downplayed the claim by the New York Times

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