State TV quoted Behrouz Kamalondi, a spokesman for the Iranian civilian nuclear program, as announcing the accident.
“Fortunately, Kamalundi said the accident did not cause any human damage or pollution,” said a presenter on state television. The cause of the accident is under investigation.
The word state television used in its report attributed to Kamalundi in Persian can also be used for “accident”
The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, the civilian arm of its nuclear program, later released a statement using the same wording used in the TV report, without going into details.
Natanz was hit by a mysterious explosion in July, which authorities later described as sabotage. Israel, Iran’s arch-enemy regional enemy, is suspected of carrying out an attack there, as well as launching other attacks, as world powers are now negotiating with Tehran in Vienna over its nuclear deal.
Iran also blamed Israel for the killing of the scientist who started the country’s military nuclear program decades ago. Israel has not announced any of the attacks, although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly described Iran as the main threat his country has faced in recent weeks. Israeli officials could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
Iran announced on Saturday that it had launched a series of 164 IR-6 centrifuges at the plant, injected it with uranium gas and began a rapid spin. Officials have also begun testing the IR-9 centrifuges, which they say will enrich uranium 50 times faster than Iran’s first-generation centrifuge, the IR-1. The Iran nuclear deal limited itself to using the IR-1 only for enrichment.
Since then President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, Tehran has relinquished all limits on its uranium stockpile. It now enriches up to 20% purity, which is a technical step up to 90% of weapon levels. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but fears that Tehran has the ability to build a bomb caused world powers to reach an agreement with the Islamic Republic in 2015.
The deal lifted economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for restricting its program and allowing IAEA inspectors to closely monitor its work.
On Tuesday, an Iranian cargo ship said to be used as a floating base for the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard Corps off the coast of Yemen was hit by an explosion, most likely from a slow mine. Iran blamed Israel for the explosion. This attack escalated the long shadow war in the waterways of the Middle East targeting shipping in the region.
Gambrell reported from Dubai, UAE.
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