April 11 (UPI) — Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility lost power on Sunday in what officials have described as a potential act of sabotage.
Behrouz Kamalvandi, a representative for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said “an accident in part of the electrical circuit” occurred at Natanz, cutting power across the facility, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported.
Kamalvandi said no casualties or pollution were caused by the incident and the cause of the blackout was being investigated.
Natanz is a uranium enrichment center, some 155 miles south of the capital, Tehran. The International Atomic Energy Agency monitors the site under a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and five other countries.
Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, described the incident as an act of “nuclear terrorism,” calling on the international community to respond.
“The action this morning against Natanz enrichment site shows the defeat of those who oppose our country’s nuclear and political development and the significant gains of our nuclear industry,” he said. “The incident shows the failure of those who oppose Iran negotiating for sanctions relief.”
Iranian Lawmaker Malek Shariati Niasar, a spokesman for the parliament’s energy committee, wrote in a tweet that the outage was “very suspicious” as it came a day after the anniversary of the National Day of Nuclear Technology, suggesting the possibility of “sabotage and infiltration.”
In celebration of the event on Saturday, which marks the production of the nation’s first batch of low enriched uranium for Natanz’s nuclear reactors in April 2006, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani unveiled “133 national nuclear achievements and projects,” in a video conference.
Last year, a part of the Natanz facility was damaged following an explosion near the Parchin military weapons development complex.
The incident occurred as the United States and Iran started new talks in Vienna about resuming the multination Obama-era nuclear accord that former President Donald Trump pulled the United States from in 2018.
The Biden administration has said it is willing to re-enter a strengthened agreement with Iran once it returns to compliance. In response to Trump’s actions and his imposition of new sanctions against Tehran, the Middle Eastern country repeatedly reneged on its commitments under the deal.
Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Israel would not be bound by any deal made that could facilitate Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon.
On Sunday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III was in Israel for talks with Benny Gantz, his Israeli counterpart.
According to a joint press statement released by the U.S. Department of State, it was unclear if the Natanz incident was discussed but Gantz emphasized to Austin that he views the United States as “the full partner across all operational threats, not the least, Iran.”
“The Tehran of today possess a strategic threat to international security to the entire Middle East and to the state of Israel,” Gantz said. “And will work closely with our American allies to ensure that any new agreement with Iran will secure the vital interest of the world, of the United States, prevent dangers, unrest in our region and protect the state of Israel.”