News

Iran confirms moving centrifuge facility allegedly hit by Israel to underground site


TEHRAN, Iran — Iran has confirmed it relocated a centrifuge facility to its underground Natanz nuclear site, state media reported, days after the UN atomic watchdog said it installed surveillance cameras to monitor the new workshop at Tehran’s request.

The late Saturday report by the official IRNA news agency comes as diplomatic efforts to restore Iran’s tattered nuclear deal appear stalled.

The news agency quoted the spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy organization, Behrouz Kamalvandi, as saying authorities had moved the operation to a safer place.

Iran’s centrifuge facility in Karaj found itself targeted in what Iran described as a sabotage attack in June. Natanz itself has twice been targeted in sabotage attacks amid uncertainty over the nuclear deal, assaults that Iran has blamed on Israel.

“Unfortunately because of a terrorist operation that took place against Karaj, we were obliged to intensify security measures under which we moved an important part of the machines and transferred the rest to Natanz and Isfahan,” said Kamalvandi. Isfahan is the location of another Iranian nuclear facility.

On Thursday, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency said it installed cameras and removed seals from machines at the new workshop in Natanz two days earlier. Those machines will be used to make centrifuge rotor tubes and bellows, crucial parts for the devices that spin at very high speeds to enrich uranium gas.

Natanz, in Iran’s central Isfahan province, hosts the country’s main uranium enrichment facility. (AP)

Talks between Iran and world powers in Vienna to revive the 2015 nuclear deal have stalled. There is concern that Iran could be closer to being able to construct an atomic weapon if it chose to pursue one.

The nuclear deal collapsed four years ago when former US president Donald Trump withdrew the United States and imposed crushing sanctions on Iran. In the meantime, Iran has vastly expanded its nuclear work

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last week insisted negotiations over the deal “are going ahead properly,” even after repeated comments by American officials that an agreement to restore the accord may not happen.

The nuclear deal saw Iran put advanced centrifuges into storage under the watch of the IAEA, while keeping its enrichment at 3.67% purity and its stockpile at only 300 kilograms (661 pounds) of uranium.

As of February 19, the IAEA says Iran’s stockpile of all enriched uranium was nearly 3,200 kilograms (7,055 pounds). Some have been enriched up to 60% purity — a short technical step from weapons-grade levels of 90%. Meanwhile, Iran has stopped the IAEA from accessing its surveillance camera footage.

Kamalvandi reiterated Iran’s stance that Tehran will not provide data from the cameras to the UN nuclear agency if a deal is not concluded.

Spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Behrouz Kamalvandi speaks in a press briefing in Tehran, Iran, on July 7, 2019. (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)

Iran has long insisted that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. However, US intelligence agencies and the IAEA believe Iran had an organized military nuclear program up until 2003, while Israel has alleged that Tehran has continued to pursue nuclear weapons since then.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.


We’re telling a critical story

Israel is now a far more prominent player on the world stage than its size suggests. As The Times of Israel’s Diplomatic Correspondent, I’m well aware that Israel’s security, strategy and national interests are always scrutinized and have serious implications.

It takes balance, determination, and knowledge to accurately convey Israel’s story, and I come to work every day aiming to do so fully. 

Financial support from readers like you allows me to travel to witness both war (I just returned from reporting in Ukraine) and the signing of historic agreements. And it enables The Times of Israel to remain the place readers across the globe turn to for accurate news about Israel’s relationship with the world.

If it’s important to you that independent, fact-based coverage of Israel’s role in the world exists and thrives, I urge you to support our work. Will you join The Times of Israel Community today?

Thank you,

Lazar Berman, Diplomatic Correspondent


Yes, I’ll give


Yes, I’ll give

Already a member? Sign in to stop seeing this


You’re a dedicated reader

That’s why we started the Times of Israel ten years ago – to provide discerning readers like you with must-read coverage of Israel and the Jewish world.

So now we have a request. Unlike other news outlets, we haven’t put up a paywall. But as the journalism we do is costly, we invite readers for whom The Times of Israel has become important to help support our work by joining The Times of Israel Community.

For as little as $6 a month you can help support our quality journalism while enjoying The Times of Israel AD-FREE, as well as accessing exclusive content available only to Times of Israel Community members.

Thank you,
David Horovitz, Founding Editor of The Times of Israel


Join Our Community


Join Our Community

Already a member? Sign in to stop seeing this





Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

close