TEHRAN—Iran said Wednesday it foiled an attempt to sabotage a facility belonging to its atomic agency near the capital, the latest attack on its nuclear program and one that follows the election of a hard-line cleric as the country’s president.
Saboteurs targeted the building in Karaj, west of Tehran, earlier in the day but were thwarted, according to Iran’s semiofficial Tasnim news agency. Iranian authorities didn’t say what the building contained or give any other details about the attack.
State-run PressTV said the “hostile attempt” hadn’t caused damage or casualties due to precautions taken after previous attacks on the country’s nuclear facilities and the killing of one its top nuclear scientists. Investigators were trying to identify the perpetrators, it said.
The alleged sabotage attempt comes at a politically sensitive time for Iran. The country last week elected a new conservative president,
who has said he supports reviving the 2015 nuclear deal with the U.S. and other world powers. But on Monday he rebuffed a key goal of the Biden administration as it negotiates a revival of the multilateral accord, hinting that Tehran wouldn’t stop supporting Shiite militia groups fighting across the Middle East or rein in its missile program.
Mr. Raisi faces daunting challenges as he prepares to take office in August. A day after his election, one of Iran’s main nuclear facilities experienced an unexplained blackout. On Tuesday, U.S. agencies seized more than 30 Iranian web domains, including sites operated by government-run PressTV as well as social media channels affiliated with Iran-backed militias in Iraq.
Over the past two years, Iran has scaled up its nuclear activities to force the U.S. to roll back crushing sanctions—breaching multiple key limitations in the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal—and its atomic ambitions have come under greater international scrutiny.
Tehran is currently negotiating with U.S., European, Russian and Chinese diplomats in Vienna about reviving the 2015 agreement, which put curbs on its enrichment activities in return for relief from U.S. sanctions. Former President
withdrew the U.S. from that accord in 2018, saying the deal didn’t go far enough, and didn’t curtail Iran’s other military activities.
Iran’s nuclear program has been targeted in a number of previous attacks.
One in April on its main nuclear plant in Natanz potentially destroyed hundreds of uranium-enrichment centrifuges. In November, one of its top nuclear scientists,
was killed outside Tehran. A fire at Natanz in July badly damaged a centrifuge assembly hall.
Iran has accused Israel of orchestrating most of the recent attacks that have targeted its nuclear program. Israel, which is vehemently opposed to the nuclear deal, hasn’t commented on the allegations. But it has said it is willing to act on its own, if necessary, to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Iran has long insisted its nuclear enrichment program is meant for civilian energy purposes. With the nuclear agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency gained unprecedented monitoring access to Iran’s facilities, but has since criticized Iran for insufficient cooperation, including its failure to explain the presence of uranium particles at three undeclared sites.
In recent months, Iran has threatened to further limit access to United Nations nuclear inspectors if the U.S. doesn’t lift sanctions.
The alleged sabotage attempt comes days after one of the country’s main nuclear power plants in Bushehr went partially offline in an unexplained blackout.
More on Iran’s Nuclear Program
A unit of the Bushehr nuclear power plant started to lose power around 8 p.m. local time on Saturday, which led to the unit being disconnected from the circuit early the next day, according to Iran’s atomic energy agency.
An energy ministry spokesman said Monday the disconnection of the unit was due to a technical error, and that the plant would probably be back in service within four days.
Banners on the websites seized by U.S. agencies said the domains had been taken by the U.S. government as part of enforcement action taken by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security. The U.S. is able to seize the sites because they use internet infrastructure either in the U.S. or owned by U.S.-based firms.
Iranian Minister of Information and Communications Technology
Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi
told Iranian media Wednesday that the U.S. had seized the websites out of “desperation” and that the “U.S. regime is trampling its own claimed values.”
Write to Sune Engel Rasmussen at email@example.com
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