Iran said it had yesterday foiled a sabotage attack on an atomic energy agency building, shortly after slamming Washington’s blockage of dozens of Iranian media sites as unhelpful for ongoing nuclear talks.
State television said the thwarted “sabotage operation” targeted a building belonging to the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, without identifying the operation’s nature or the culprits.
“The saboteurs failed to carry out their plan,” and there were no casualties or damage, state TV reported.
Tasnim news agency said the target building was near the city of Karaj, some 50kms west of the capital Tehran.
The reports came as talks continue in Vienna between Tehran and world powers aimed at reviving their hobbled 2015 nuclear deal, staunchly opposed by Israel.
The reported sabotage also comes a day after the US justice department said it had seized 33 Iranian government-controlled media websites, alleging they were hosted on US-owned domains in violation of sanctions.
The office of Iran’s outgoing president Hassan Rouhani warned yesterday that Washington’s move was “not constructive” for the nuclear talks, even as Germany’s top diplomat Heiko Maas said there was a “good chance” of reviving the deal soon.
The developments come days after cleric Ebrahim Raisi was elected Iran’s next president.
The 2015 nuclear deal promised Iran sanctions relief in return for limits on its nuclear programme, but was torpedoed three years later when then US-president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from it and reimposed punishing sanctions.
In response, Iran later progressively stepped back from its own commitments under the deal.
Israel has always vigorously opposed the deal, and its new coalition government has pledged to “do whatever it takes to prevent Iran obtaining a nuclear bomb”. Iran has always denied seeking nuclear weapons.
Tehran accuses the Jewish state of being behind a sabotage attack on its Natanz uranium enrichment plant in April and the assassination of its top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh last November.
Israel has never commented on that killing, and neither confirmed nor denied involvement in the “small explosion” at Natanz.
But Israeli public radio said the latter was a sabotage operation by the Mossad spy agency, citing unnamed intelligence sources.
The New York Times also quoted intelligence sources pointing to a “an Israeli role”.
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