An incident at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility on Sunday was caused by an act of “nuclear terrorism”, the country’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said, according to state TV.
“The action taken against the Natanz site shows the failure of the opposition to Iran’s industrial and political progress to prevent the significant development of Iran’s nuclear industry,” Salehi said.
“To thwart the goals of those who commanded this terrorist act … Iran will continue to improve its nuclear technology on the one hand and to lift oppressive U.S. sanctions on the other hand.”
“While condemning this despicable move, Iran emphasizes the need for the international community and the International Atomic Energy Agency to deal with this nuclear terrorism and reserves the right to take action against the perpetrators,” Salehi said.
A problem with the electrical distribution grid of the Natanz site had caused the incident, Iranian media reported.
The spokesman, Behrouz Kamalvandi, said earlier that “the incident caused no casualties or contamination”.
The incident took place a day after Tehran launched new advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges at the site. The facility, located in the desert in the central province of Isfahan, is the centrepiece of Iran’s uranium enrichment programme and is monitored by inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog.
In July last year, a fire broke out at the Natanz facility, which the government said was an attempt to sabotage the country’s nuclear programme.
In 2010, the Stuxnet computer virus, widely believed to have been developed by the United States and Israel, was discovered after it was used to attack Natanz.
The incident at the Natanz facility comes amid efforts by Tehran and Washington to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers after former U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned it three years ago. Trump re-imposed sanctions that had been lifted on the Islamic Republic under the deal, and brought in many more.
In reaction to the U.S. sanctions, Iran has gradually breached many restrictions imposed by the accord. The two nations laid out tough stances at indirect talks in Vienna last week on how to bring both back into full compliance with the deal.