Iran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report
Iran released a photo Thursday of what appears to a badly fire-damaged factory where the country had touted the production of new centrifuges, The New York Times reports.
The Atomic Energy Agency of Iran described the fire at the plant as an “incident.” While the photo shows widespread damage to the facility, it’s unclear how much damage occurred underground where much of the centrifuge production is thought to happen, according to the Times.
A Middle Eastern intelligence official told the Times that the damage was caused by a planted explosive device, but the Atomic Energy Agency of Iran didn’t mention any suspected foul play.
BBC reported that a group called the Homeland Cheetahs has taken responsibility for the explosion. Reportedly, the group is composed of Iranian military dissidents, though there is no evidence backing up their claim.
The facility is a focal point in Iran’s nuclear development. Centrifuges are the key to nuclear weapons, as they are needed to enrich uranium to a certain level. Last year, the Iranian government said that it was producing a new centrifuge that would allow it to enrich uranium 50 times faster than it was able to under the Obama-era nuclear deal.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the U.N. Security Council this week that the body should “reject extortion diplomacy” from Iran.
“If Iran isn’t a threat to peace that demands a collective measure, I do not know what is,” Pompeo told the council Tuesday. “The council must reject extortion diplomacy.”
The U.S. is looking to extend an arms embargo treaty on Iran that is expected to expire in the fall as part of terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Obama-era deal passed in 2015.
Under that deal, Iran received sanction relief in return for limiting its nuclear production. President Trump signaled in 2018 that the U.S. would be pulling out of the deal, while Iran has made it known that it hasn’t been following the terms of the deal.
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