Iran says 'sabotage attack' on civilian nuclear site thwarted

Iran says 'sabotage attack' on civilian nuclear site thwarted
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Iran said Wednesday it prevented a “sabotage attack” on a civilian nuclear site near the country’s capital of Tehran, with authorities saying they were working to identify those responsible.

The Associated Press reported that Nournews, a news outlet believed to be close to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, first revealed the alleged attack Wednesday. 

Iranian state television reported that the suspected attack on an Iranian Atomic Energy Organization building in Karaj city, located about 25 miles northwest of Tehran, “left no casualties or damages and was unable to disrupt the Iranian nuclear program,” according to the AP. 

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Iranian authorities offered little additional details on the incident, with an official who spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity referring the news agency to initial Iranian state media reports. 

The United Nations’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) did not immediately comment on reports of the attack by Iranian authorities. 

While it was not clear which Karaj facility had been targeted, the AP noted that the area is home to two known sites connected with Iran’s nuclear program, including the Karaj Agricultural and Medical Research Center.

According to the IAEA, the center uses nuclear technology to improve the “quality of soil, water, agricultural and livestock production.”

While the agricultural center is not listed as a “safeguard facility” with the IAEA, a March 2015 policy paper by the Washington Institute for Near-East Policy wrote that a nearby Karaj facility had “been storing waste from the nuclear program and equipment dismantled from atomic vapor laser isotope separation experiments in the nearby Lashkar Abad.” 

Wednesday’s alleged attack comes as the latest in a series reported by Iran in recent months, including one in April on its underground Natanz facility that authorities said at the time could set back uranium enrichment at the site for months. 

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Iran has blamed Israel for carrying out the April attack, though the country never explicitly claimed responsibility. 

Iran following the attack announced that it was increasing its uranium enrichment levels to 60 percent, marking its highest increase yet, but still less than the 90 percent needed to manufacture nuclear weapons. 

Iranian authorities have also accused Israel of being behind the November killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a scientist who began Iran’s nuclear program. 

The reported attacks and subsequent fallout have threatened ongoing attempts by the Biden administration and other international leaders to renegotiate the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, from which former President TrumpDonald TrumpRonny Jackson, former White House doctor, predicts Biden will resign McCarthy: Pelosi appointing members of Jan. 6 panel who share 'pre-conceived narrative' Kinzinger denounces 'lies and conspiracy theories' while accepting spot on Jan. 6 panel MORE withdrew the U.S. in 2018. 

Negotiators from Tehran and other world powers adjourned nuclear deal talks in Vienna on Sunday, with plans to continue discussions following consultations with their individual governments. The U.S. is not currently directly engaged in these negotiations. 

Iran’s president-elect, hard-line judiciary chief Ebrahim Rais, said Monday that the country’s ballistic missile program was “nonnegotiable,” adding that he had no plans to meet with President BidenJoe BidenHouse Republican calls second bout of COVID-19 'far more challenging' Conflicting school mask guidance sparks confusion Biden: Pathway to citizenship in reconciliation package 'remains to be seen' MORE.