Iran on Monday blamed Israel for an attack on the Islamic Republic’s Natanz nuclear facility that reportedly caused power outages and damaged centrifuges. While Israeli officials have not officially claimed responsibility for the incident, multiple Israeli media outlets cited unnamed officials who attributed the attack to the Jewish State.
The Natanz attack comes as the US and Iran are engaged in indirect talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, something Israel is strongly opposed to. When blaming Israel for the incident, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said it would not affect the negotiations.
“The Zionists want to take revenge because of our progress in the way to lift sanctions,” Zarif said on Monday. “We will not fall into their trap … We will not allow this act of sabotage to affect the nuclear talks.”
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh also commented on the Natanz incident and downplayed the damage. “Gladly there was no human or environmental damage, but it could have certainly led to a catastrophe that is a crime against humanity, which is not uncommon in the thuggish nature of the Zionist regime,” he said. Khatibzadeh said the centrifuges that were damaged are already in the process of being replaced.
The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran described the incident as a “small explosion” at the Natanz facility and said the “damaged sectors can be quickly repaired.” It’s not clear if the blast was caused by a cyberattack or through other means. A report from Israeli TV said the explosion was caused by a bomb that was planted at the facility.
The US and Israel have coordinated covert action against Iran in the past, but Washington distanced itself from the latest incident. “The US was not involved in any manner,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Monday. But at the same time, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited Israel and vowed an “ironclad” commitment to the country.
While meeting with Austin on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will “continue to defend itself” against Iran. “In the Middle East, there is no threat more dangerous, serious, and pressing than that posed by the fanatical regime in Iran,” Netanyahu told reporters. “Israel will continue to defend itself against Iran’s aggression and terrorism.”
Somehow, Netanyahu frames Israel as a victim of Iranian “aggression.” But the reality is, Israel is constantly attacking Iran through covert means. Besides the Natanz incident, Israel has been targeting Iranian ships in the region. Last week, an Iranian vessel was hit with an explosion in the Red Sea. Like most Israeli attacks, it was not officially claimed, but media reports attributed it to Israel.