Sabotage Attempt on Building of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Foiled

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) —
Centrifuge machines in the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in central Iran. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP, File)

An Iranian news site close to security services says that authorities have thwarted a “sabotage attack” on the country’s civilian nuclear program, without providing further information.

Nournews, a website believed to be close to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, reported Wednesday that the attack was foiled “before causing any damage to the building.” It said the case was “under investigation.”

When asked for comment, an Iranian official referred to the Nournews report. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as they did not have authorization to discuss the matter with the media. There was no immediate information about how the attempted attack was carried out.

Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency said the building was located near Karaj city, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) west the capital of Tehran. Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization describes the Karaj city facility as a center founded in 1974 that deals with the improvement of the “quality of soil, water, agricultural and livestock production using nuclear technology.”

The website of state-owned IRAN newspaper published the same report without offering the location or other details. Iranian state news carried the report on its news ticker.

The report comes after a series of suspected sabotage attacks targeting Iran’s nuclear program in recent months. In April, Iran’s underground Natanz nuclear facility experienced a mysterious blackout that damaged some of its centrifuges.

Iran described the blackout as an act of “nuclear terrorism,” raising regional tensions as world powers and Tehran negotiated a return to its tattered 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Israel is widely believed to have carried out the sabotage that caused the outage, though it has not claimed it.

Last year, Natanz suffered a mysterious explosion at its advanced centrifuge assembly plant that authorities later described as sabotage. Iran now is rebuilding that facility deep inside a nearby mountain. Iran also blamed Israel for the November killing of a scientist who began the country’s military nuclear program decades earlier.

Tensions in the region have escalated amid the collapse of the deal that granted Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. In 2018, then-President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. unilaterally out of the nuclear deal, setting off a series of incidents that threatened the wider Mideast.

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