Iran on Monday blamed Israel for a sabotage attack on its underground Natanz nuclear facility that damaged the centrifuges it uses to enrich uranium there, warning that it would avenge the assault, per the AP. The comments by Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh represent the first official accusation leveled against Israel for the assault Sunday that cut power across the facility. Israel has not directly claimed responsibility for the attack. However, suspicion fell immediately on it as Israeli media widely reported that a devastating cyberattack orchestrated by Israel caused the blackout. If Israel was responsible, it would further heighten tensions between the two nations, already engaged in a shadow conflict across the wider Middle East.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who met Sunday with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, has vowed to do everything in his power to stop efforts to revive a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. At a news conference at Israel’s Nevatim air base Monday, Austin declined to say whether the Natanz incident is likely to impede the Biden administration’s efforts to re-engage with Iran on its nuclear program. “Those efforts will continue.” he said. Details remained scarce about what happened Sunday. Khatibzadeh acknowledged that IR-1 centrifuges, the first-generation workhorse of Iran’s uranium enrichment, had been damaged in the attack, but did not elaborate. State television has yet to show images from the facility. "The answer for Natanz is to take revenge against Israel,” Khatibzadeh said. “Israel will receive its answer through its own path.”
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