The Australian

Sabotage won’t help US, says Iran

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TEHRAN: Iran has warned that “acts of sabotage” and sanctions will not give the US extra leverage in talks on reviving a troubled 2015 nuclear deal.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also blasted Israel, which Iran has accused of being behind Sunday’s sabotage attack on its Natanz nuclear plant, of having made a “very bad gamble”.

“We have no problem with returning to implementi­ng our JCPOA commitment­s,” Mr Zarif said, referring to the deal with major powers, which Washington quit in 2018.

“But the Americans should know that neither sanctions nor acts of sabotage will give them negotiatio­n tools and these acts will only make the situation more difficult for them.”

Iran on Monday charged that its arch-enemy Israel was behind an attack on the uranium enrichment plant and vowed it would take “revenge” and ramp up its nuclear activities.

The Atomic Energy Organisati­on of Iran said a “small explosion” had hit the plant’s electricit­y distributi­on centre, causing a total electrical breakdown.

Israel did not claim responsibi­lity for the sabotage, but unsourced media reports in the country attributed it to the Israeli security services carrying out a “cyber operation”.

The New York Times, quoting unnamed US and Israeli intelligen­ce officials, also said there had been “an Israeli role” in the attack in which an explosion had “completely destroyed” the power system that fed the plant’s “undergroun­d centrifuge­s”.

The White House said the US “was not involved in any manner”.

Mr Zarif said: “If (Israel) thought that they can stop Iran from following up on lifting sanctions from the Iranian people, then they made a very bad gamble.”

He said “what they did in Natanz, they thought it would reduce Iran’s leverage” in the talks on bringing the US back into the deal.

“But it makes it possible for Iran to legally, legitimate­ly, and in order to make up for this terrorist stupidity, use any capacity it has at Natanz.

“The Zionists want to take revenge because of our progress on the path to lift sanctions.

“They have publicly said that they will not allow this, but we will take our revenge against the Zionists.”

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday that the centrifuge­s hit by the power blackout were first-generation ones, not more advanced models banned under the nuclear deal.

If is the second time in a year that the Natanz facility had been attacked, seemingly with inside help. An explosion in a warehouse developing advanced centrifuge­s caused a big fire in July. Then in November a Mossad unit killed Brigadier General Mohsen Fakhrizade­h, head of the military side of the nuclear program. The Iranians said the killers had inside help.

The Natanz episode came days after talks opened in Vienna on reversing former US president Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the deal.

US President Joe Biden wants to revive the agreement over strong Israeli opposition, arguing that it had succeeded in sharply reducing Iran’s nuclear activities in return for relief from punishing economic sanctions.

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