Will Israel make Iran nuclear
The damage report came from the hospital bed. The suspended ceiling in one of the control rooms fell, Behrouz Kamalvandi told the cameras. The spokesman for the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency fell into a seven-meter-deep hole on Sunday and injured his legs and head when he tried to get an idea of the damage caused by an explosion in the uranium enrichment plant in Natans. It was not strong enough "to destroy everything," said Kamalvandi - but strong enough that debris flew through the area covering the ventilation shaft into which he fell.
His boss, Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi, stated that the enrichment of uranium had not been interrupted, but continued with an emergency power supply. The New York Times had previously reported, citing intelligence sources, that the explosion had completely destroyed the independent and well-protected power supply. It will take at least nine months before production is back to full capacity.
Salehi disagreed with this. However, he also admitted that damaged centrifuges would have to be replaced. How badly the most important nuclear facility in Iran was hit can only be determined independently when the inspectors report to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
What is clear, however, is the political damage; Salehi had already said on Sunday that the attack, which he branded as "nuclear terrorism", was aimed not only at the progress of the Iranian nuclear industry, but also at the attempt by the government of President Hassan Rouhani to have it lifted in indirect negotiations with the USA in Vienna of sanctions - for which Tehran, for its part, would again have to comply with the restrictions of the 2015 nuclear agreement.
The Iranian foreign minister is threatened with revenge
While Salehi had refrained from directing himself to blame, Foreign Minister Mohammed Jawad Zarif made Israel directly responsible for the attack on state television on Monday. Israel wants "revenge because we have made progress in lifting the sanctions," and has publicly stated several times that it does not want to allow this. "But we will take revenge on the Zionists," added Sarif. Iran reserves the right to retaliate. He did not do this, nor did he provide any evidence to support the allegation.
However, the Israeli media had unanimously speculated on Sunday that the Mossad would be involved. As usual, the allegations have not been officially denied or confirmed. However, there were several more or less hidden references to an Israeli handwriting behind the events.
At a memorial service for fallen Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem, Aviv Kochavi, Chief of Staff of the Israeli army, insisted on declaring: "The activities of the Israeli army in the Middle East are not hidden from the enemy. They are watching them, seeing our capabilities, think carefully about their steps. " This can also be understood as a warning against an Iranian attempt at retaliation.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a meeting with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Jerusalem on Monday afternoon as an urgent warning. "My policy as Israeli Prime Minister is clear: I will never allow Iran to acquire the nuclear capabilities to pursue its goal of genocide and the eradication of Israel," he says. "Israel will continue to defend itself against Iranian aggression and terrorism."
The Israeli Defense Minister is in favor of the nuclear deal
A few days earlier, at an event on Israeli Holocaust Remembrance Day, Netanyahu had addressed "our best friends" directly to the United States, announcing that Israel would in no way feel bound by a new nuclear deal with Iran.
When asked in Jerusalem whether the recent Natans incident would hamper President Joe Biden's efforts to get the US back into the 2015 nuclear deal, Austin narrowly replied, "These efforts will continue."
Austin had come to Jerusalem to explain Washington's position to the Israeli partners on the agreement, which the then US President Donald Trump had terminated in 2018, to the great satisfaction of Israel. Austin also met with Defense Secretary Benny Gantz - and learned a very different Israeli position there. "We will work closely with our American allies to ensure that every new agreement with Iran safeguards the world's central interests and protects the state of Israel," said Gantz, who is now openly hostile to Netanyahu. President Joe Biden's spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, referring to the reports of the attack: "The US was not involved in any way." You do not want to participate in speculation about the background or consequences.
Iranian hardliners demand that negotiations be broken off
The open question is whether it was a cyber attack or an explosive device. Iranian media with close contacts to the Revolutionary Guards report that the person responsible for the incident has been identified. Mohsen Rezai, former commander of the elite unit, spoke of "a problem of infiltration", which indicates more of a conventional attack. In July 2020, a hall in Natans, in which centrifuges for uranium enrichment were assembled and tested, was destroyed by an explosion.
The hardliners in Tehran demanded that negotiations on a return to the nuclear agreement, which are to be continued this Wednesday in Vienna, be broken off because of the attack. Foreign Minister Sarif was summoned to parliament. The last word here too is Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has not yet made a public statement on the incident.
The EU expressed concern about the attack. Any attempt to disrupt current efforts to revive the international nuclear deal with Iran should be rejected, said a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in Brussels on Monday. It must now be thoroughly clarified what happened and who is behind it.
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