Iran reportedly foils sabotage attack on civilian nuclear facility

Authorities in Iran claim to have thwarted a “sabotage attack” targeting a civilian nuclear facility near the country’s capital, Iranian media have reported, as details about the incident remained scarce.

A website believed to be close to Iran’s supreme national security council, Nournews, said the move was foiled “before causing any casualties or damage” to the sprawling centre located in Karaj city, 25 miles west of Tehran.

It said authorities were investigating the cause of the sabotage, without saying how it was carried out. Iranian officials asked for comment referred to the Nournews report.

Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization describes the Karaj Nuclear Centre for Medicine and Agriculture as a facility founded in 1974 that uses nuclear technology to improve “quality of soil, water, agricultural and livestock production”. The area is located near various industrial sites, including pharmaceutical production facilities where Iran has manufactured its domestic coronavirus vaccine.

The reported sabotage follows several suspected attacks targeting Iran’s nuclear programme in recent months, as diplomatic efforts gain traction in Vienna to resurrect Tehran’s 2015 deal with world powers.

Iran’s underground Natanz nuclear facility experienced a mysterious blackout in April that damaged some of its centrifuges. Last July, mysterious fires struck the advanced centrifuge assembly plant at Natanz, which authorities later described as sabotage. Iran is rebuilding that facility deep inside a nearby mountain.

Israel is widely believed to have carried out the July sabotage, though it has not claimed it. Iran also blamed Israel for the November killing of a scientist who began the country’s military nuclear programme decades earlier.

The decision by the former US president Donald Trump to withdraw from the deal and impose sanctions has led Iran, over time, to abandon all limitations on uranium enrichment. The country is now enriching uranium to 60%, its highest-ever levels, although still short of weapons grade.

Iran has said its nuclear ambitions are peaceful and that it will return to its commitments once the US lifts its sanctions.

Source: The Guardian