Tehran admits 'significant damage' to the Natanz underground nuclear site

The accident occurred mid last week and could slow down the development of advanced centrifuges for uranium enrichment. For the Tehran authorities, the cause of fire has been identified, but it is kept secret. Israeli Defense Minister: Israel is not always responsible for the incidents that occur in Iran.


Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The fire at the Natanz underground nuclear site, which occurred mid last week, has caused "significant damage" which risks slowing down the development of advanced centrifuges for uranium enrichment. This was announced by the spokesman of the Iranian atomic energy body, according to which the cause behind the fire has been identified, even if it is - at the moment - kept secret.

The flames hit a laboratory for the assembly of centrifuges; according to experts, behind the accident there could be a cyber-sabotage and the destroyed machinery could be replaced by even more advanced equipment. Centrifuges are essential for the production of enriched uranium, which can be used both for the production of nuclear energy and for the realization of atomic warheads.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, stressed yesterday that "for security reasons" the underlying causes of the fire will not be widespread. The incident, he adds, "caused significant damage, but there are no" casualties or injuries. The episode is not an isolated case in Iran, because several incidents occurred in the center of the country last week, including fires and explosions.

"The accident - Kamalvandi adds - The incident could slow down the development and production of advanced centrifuges in the medium term... Iran will replace the damaged building with a bigger one that has more advanced equipment." According to official Iranian sources, re-launched by Reuters, the fire was the result of an external attack, without giving further details.

Six days before the accident in Natanz, another explosion struck the Parchin military complex near Tehran. For Western diplomats, the place was the scene of nuclear tests over 10 years ago with the explosion of atomic warheads.

The official Iranian news agency spoke of acts of sabotage by external "enemies" such as Israel or the United States, while not accusing them directly.

In the past, Israel has repeatedly attacked and hit Iranian targets in Syria, Lebanon and even within the borders of the Islamic Republic itself. However, in these hours Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz distances himself from the fact, stressing that "not necessarily" there is Israel behind every mysterious incident that occurs in the Islamic Republic.