Saturday, 8 May 2021 - 26 of Iyyar, 5781
EU

EU expresses concern over incident in Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility as JCPOA talks resume Tuesday

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The incident occurred as the talks to bring the JCPOA, the 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran,  back to its full implementation are ongoing in Vienna, including indirect talks between the U.S and Iran.

Marking their 15th annual “Nuclear Day,’’ Iranian leaders announced they have begun testing their newest, most advanced IR-9 nuclear centrifuges. The IR-9 is 50 times faster than the first generation, IR-1. The country also announced it has 164 IR-6 centrifuges operating, and is also developing IR-8 centrifuges.

‘’I will never allow Iran to obtain the nuclear capability to carry out its genocidal goal of eliminating Israel. Israel will continue to defend itself against Iran’s aggression and terrorism,’’ said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

An EU spokesperson said the EU ‘’is following with concern reports regarding the incident that took place during the weekend in the Natanz nuclear facility in Iran, which could have been an act of sabotage.’’

According to a report in The New York Times on Monday, a blast tore through the uranium-enrichment Natanz facility, causing a power blackout that severely damaged the facility., setting back production at the site for at least nine months Natanz facility, causing a power blackout, setting back production at the site for at least nine months

‘’This incident should be clarified thoroughly,’’ said Peter Stano, EU spokesperson for foreign affairs, at the EU Commission daily briefing.

The incident occurred as the talks to bring the JCPOA, the 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran,  back to its full implementation are ongoing in Vienna, including indirect talks between the U.S and Iran. The talks are to resume on Tuesday in the Austrian capital.  ‘’Any attempt to undermine them has to be fully rejected,’’ the spokesperson added.

He stressed that all  questions relating to Iran’s nuclear program ‘’need to be resolved via diplomatic means to which there is no alternative.’’

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused Israel of being behind the  “incident” at Natanz. Iranian state television quoted Zarif as saying, “The Zionists want to take revenge because of our progress on the way to lift sanctions … they have publicly said that they will not allow this. But we will take our revenge on the Zionists.”

Germany warned that the latest developments in Natanz did not bode well for nuclear talks aimed at reviving the JCPOA.

“What we are hearing currently out of Tehran is not a positive contribution, particularly the development in Natanz,” said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

On Saturday, Iran said it started up advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges in Natanz in breach of the nuclear deal. Marking their 15th annual “Nuclear Day,’’ Iranian leaders announced they have begun testing their newest, most advanced IR-9 nuclear centrifuges. The IR-9 is 50 times faster than the first generation, IR-1. The country also announced it has 164 IR-6 centrifuges operating, and is also developing IR-8 centrifuges.

Maas said the negotiations in Vienna “will not be easy, but until now, there has been a constructive spirit” shown by participants.

He also noted that the Natanz incident could give clues regarding the extent to which what is discussed in Vienna would then be implemented by Tehran.

On Saturday, Iran said it started up advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges in Natanz in breach of the nuclear deal. Marking their 15th annual “Nuclear Day,’’ Iranian leaders announced they have begun testing their newest, most advanced IR-9 nuclear centrifuges. The IR-9 is 50 times faster than the first generation, IR-1. The country also announced it has 164 IR-6 centrifuges operating, and is also developing IR-8 centrifuges.

Last July the Natanz site that manufactures advance centrifuges suffered significant damage as a result of an explosion.

Natanz was also targeted in 2010 by the Stuxnet computer virus. Stuxnet was jointly developed by IDF Intelligence and the National Security Agency in the US. It damaged the control over the centrifuges and caused them to break down without leaving a trace. It operated for close to a year before being discovered.

According to security analyst Yoav Limor, commenting on the latest Natanz incident in daily Israel Hayom, “If it was deliberate and if committed by Israel and the Mossad, the intent was to send a double message: the first was physical, to cause extensive damage and to delay the nuclear programme; the second was psychological, to show, once again, that not only is Iran vulnerable and breached, this is a signal to the world that Israel will continue to protect its vital interests.”

At a meeting with visiting U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Monday in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that in the Middle East, ‘’there is no threat that is more serious, more dangerous, more pressing than that posed by the fanatical regime in Iran.’’

‘’Iran continues to support terrorists around the world in five continents, threatening civilians everywhere. Iran has never given up its quest for nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them. Iran consistently and outrageously calls for Israel’s annihilation and works towards that goal.’’

He added: ‘’I will never allow Iran to obtain the nuclear capability to carry out its genocidal goal of eliminating Israel. Israel will continue to defend itself against Iran’s aggression and terrorism.’’

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