http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/DrudgeReportFeed/~3/l8SRi5Gzb68/iran-names-suspect-in-natanz-nuclear-plant-attack

Iran has named a suspect in the attack on its Natanz nuclear facility that damaged centrifuges there, saying he had fled the country “hours before” the sabotage happened.

While the extent of the damage from the 11 April sabotage remains unclear, it comes as Iran tries to negotiate with world powers over allowing the US to re-enter its tattered nuclear deal and lift the economic sanctions it faces.

Already, Iran has begun enriching uranium up to 60% purity in response – three times higher than ever before, though in small quantities. The sabotage and Iran’s response to it also have further inflamed tensions across the Middle East, where a shadow war between Tehran and Israel, the prime suspect in the sabotage, still rages.

State television named the suspect as 43-year-old Reza Karimi. It showed a passport-style photograph of a man identified as Karimi, saying he was born in the nearby city of Kashan.

The report also aired what appeared to be an Interpol “red notice” seeking his arrest. The arrest notice was not immediately accessible on Interpol’s public-facing database. Interpol, based in Lyon, France, declined to comment.

The TV report said “necessary actions” are under way to bring Karimi back to Iran through legal channels, without elaborating. The supposed Interpol “red notice” listed his foreign travel history as including Ethiopia, Kenya, the Netherlands, Qatar, Romania, Turkey, Uganda and the United Arab Emirates.

The report did not elaborate how Karimi would have accessed one of the most secure facilities in the Islamic Republic. However, it did for the first time show authorities acknowledging an explosion struck the Natanz facility.

There was a “limited explosion of a small part of the electricity-feeding path to the centrifuges’ hall,” the TV report said. “The explosion happened because of the function of explosive materials and there was no cyber-attack.”

Initial reports in Israeli media, which maintain close relations to its military and intelligence services, blamed a cyber-attack for the damage.

The Iranian state TV report also said there were images that corroborated the account of an explosion rather than cyber-attack offered by security services, but it did not broadcast those pictures.

The report also showed centrifuges in a hall, as well as what appeared to be caution tape, at the Natanz facility. In one shot, a TV reporter interviewed an unnamed technician, who was shown from behind – likely a safety measure as Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated in suspected Israeli-orchestrated attacks in the past.

“The sound that you are hearing is the sound of operating machines that are fortunately undamaged,” he said, referring to the high-pitched whine of the centrifuges heard in the background. “Many of the centrifuge chains that faced defects are now under control. Part of the work that had been disrupted will be back on track with the round-the-clock efforts of my colleagues.”

In Vienna, negotiations continued over the deal on Saturday with another meeting of diplomats from Iran and the five powers that remain in the deal, with expert-level working groups on sanctions-lifting and nuclear issues set to continue activities through to next week.

The EU, Russia and Iran hailed the progress at the talks. Enrique Mora, the EU official who chaired the talks, tweeted that “progress has been made in a far from easy task. We need now more detailed work”.

The Russian ambassador to Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, added that “participants took note with satisfaction of the progress made so far and expressed determination to continue negotiations with a view to complete the process successfully as soon as possible”.

The head of the Iran delegation, Abbas Araghchi, remarked on Telegram: “A good discussion took place within the joint commission. It appears that a new agreement is taking shape and there is now a common final goal among all.”

The 2015 accord, which the former US president, Donald Trump, unilaterally withdrew the US from in 2018, prevented Iran from stockpiling enough high-enriched uranium to be able to pursue a nuclear weapon if it chose in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

Iran insists that its nuclear programme is peaceful, though the west and the IAEA say Tehran had an organised military nuclear programme up until the end of 2003. An annual US intelligence report released on Tuesday maintained the longtime American assessment that Iran is not currently trying to build a nuclear bomb.

Iran previously said it could use uranium enriched up to 60% for nuclear-powered ships. However, the Islamic Republic currently has no such ships in its navy.

The attack at Natanz was initially described only as a blackout in its electrical grid, but later Iranian officials began calling it an attack.

One Iranian official referred to “several thousand centrifuges damaged and destroyed” in a state TV interview. However, no other official has offered that figure and no images of the aftermath have been released.

You Might Like
Learn more about RevenueStripe...