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April 12, 2021, 3:52 p.m. EDT

Iran blames Israel for major nuclear plant explosion

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By Pierre Briançon

The Iranian government alleged on Monday that Israel was behind a blackout that followed an explosion at the Natanz nuclear site, with foreign minister Javad Zarif threatening to “take revenge against the Zionists.”

  • According to Iranian semiofficial news agency Nournews , “the identity of the person” who caused the damage in one of the underground facility’s production halls “has been identified.”

  • The Israeli government has kept to its customary silence on such matters, but reports in the country’s media have speculated that the attack could be the result of an Israeli cyberattack.

  • The incident happened at the end of a week when Iran and major western powers held talks to try salvage the 2015 nuclear deal later denounced by the Trump administration.

  • According to U.S. and Israeli intelligence officials quoted by the New York Times, a large explosion destroyed the internal power system of the plant and set back the Iranian nuclear program by at least nine months.

The outlook: Israel had fiercely opposed the 2015 agreement and the country’s commentators are drawing a clear link on the new attack on Natanz, after several similar ones, and the diplomatic effort currently under way after President Joe Biden decided to rejoin the treaty.

Read more: Iran calls blackout at atomic site an act of ‘nuclear terrorism’

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