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Uranium enrichment in Iran: Incident at Nattan nuclear power plant

Status: 04/11/2021 5:26 p.m.

An incident has taken place at the Iranian nuclear power plant in Natanz. The state Atomic Energy Agency said. Yesterday, Iran implemented new centrifuges for uranium enrichment. It is not clear if there is a link.

According to the state nuclear organization AEOI, an “incident” took place at the Iranian nuclear plant in Nazareth on Sunday night. Accordingly, there were problems with the electrical phase in some parts of the system. Authority spokesman Behras Kamalwandi said this morning that there were no injuries or radiation leaks. The cause of the incident is being investigated, the IRNA news agency said in a statement.

“We had an incident in an area of ​​the power supply network at the enrichment plant. As a result, the electricity was cut off,” Kamalwandi said in a telephone interview with Iranian state television.

Iran talks about “terrorism”

Iranian parliamentarian Mark Shariati wrote on Twitter that the incident was “suspicious” and about “sabotage or intrusion.”

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Civil Nuclear Project, called it “nuclear terrorism” on Iranian state television. However, he did not say who was responsible for it.

Israeli journalist Amichai Stein wrote that the disruption to the nuclear power plant’s power supply is thought to have been triggered by “Israeli cyber activity”.

New centrifuges for uranium enrichment

A few hours ago, Iran announced the launch of new centrifuges for uranium enrichment in the Nation. At an online ceremony broadcast by state television, President Hassan Rouhani officially unveiled nearly 200 new IR-5 and IR-6 centrifuges at the Nattons nuclear power plant.

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Uranium is enriched there – currently up to 20 percent. Uranium with different concentrations of fuel is used as fuel for nuclear reactors – but it can also be used in nuclear weapons. It is unclear whether there is a link between the new centrifuges and the incident.

There was already a severe explosion in one of the plant’s work halls last July. The exact background is not yet clear. At the time, there was talk of Israel committing acts of sabotage, but this has not been officially confirmed.

The nuclear deal needs to be renewed

The incident and the appointment of new decentralizations came in the wake of ongoing negotiations on a revival of the nuclear deal, which is expected to prevent Iran from buying nuclear weapons. Under then-US President Donald Trump, the United States unilaterally withdrew from the 2018 agreement and imposed new sanctions on Iran. Since then, Tehran has also gradually relinquished its obligations.

The agreement, concluded in Vienna in 2015, allows Iran to enrich uranium exclusively with the older generation centrifugal IR-1. In addition, Iran is allowed to test a certain number of IR-4 and IR-5 centrifuges. The decentralization currently in place will enable Iran to enrich uranium on a larger scale than it has been approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Iran says it has no military background for its nuclear activities.

Karin Sense, with information from ART-Studio Istanbul

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