Saboteurs cut powerlines to Iranian nuclear bunker

Iran: Saboteurs cut power lines to nuclear bunker

09/17/2012 16:22

Explosives were used to cut the electricity power lines to Iran’s Fordow underground enrichment plant last month in an apparent attempt to sabotage Tehran’s atomic advances, its nuclear energy chief said on Monday.

It was believed to be the first time Iran has mentioned the incident, which Iranian atomic energy organization chief Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani said took place on Aug. 17.

He also told the annual member state gathering of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that “the same act” had been carried out on power lines to Iran’s main enrichment plant near the central town of Natanz, without giving a date.

Abbasi-Davani made clear his view that sabotage would not be successful in slowing Iran’s nuclear program, which the West suspects is aimed at developing an atomic bomb capability but which Tehran says is purely peaceful.

Iran has often accused Israel and Tehran’s Western enemies of being behind the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists and of trying to damage its nuclear program in other ways, such as cyber attacks.

Abbasi-Davani said explosives had been used to cut power lines from the city of Qom to the Fordow underground uranium enrichment plant on Aug. 17. The next morning, he said, IAEA inspectors had asked for an unannounced visit to Fordow.

“Does this visit have any connection to that detonation? Who, other than the IAEA inspector, can have access to the complex in such a short time to record and report failures?” Abbasi-Davani told the gathering in Vienna.

“It should be recalled that power cut-off is one of the ways to break down centrifuge machines,” he said, referring to the machines used to enrich uranium, which can have both civilian and military purposes.

He did not say whether the power had since been restored or give any other details.

Iran uses the Fordow facility to enrich uranium to a fissile concentration of 20 percent, the part of its work that most worries the West as it takes it significantly closer to the 90 percent level needed for bombs. It built the site some 80 metres below rock and soil to better protect it against enemy strikes.

Abbasi-Davani, in unusually strong language in an international forum, also accused the IAEA of a cynical approach and mismanagement and suggested that “terrorists and saboteurs” might have infiltrated it.

Abbasi-Davani told the IAEA gathering that included senior US and other Western officials: “Plotters of attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities have realized, through the IAEA published reports, that they have not gained any success in this regard.”

Iranian experts have devised “certain ways through which nuclear facilities remain intact under missile attacks and air raids,” he said.

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  • Iran nuke chief warns of ‘terrorists’ in UN atomic agency

    Sep 17, 2012

    Vienna: Iran’s nuclear chief warned Monday that “terrorists and saboteurs” might have infiltrated the International Atomic Energy Agency in an effort to derail his country’s atomic program, in an unprecedentedly harsh attack on the integrity of the UN organization and its probe of allegations that Tehran might be striving to make nuclear arms.

    Fereydoun Abbasi also rebuked the United States in comments to the IAEA’s 55-nation general conference, reflecting Iran’s determination to continue defying international pressure aimed at curbing its nuclear program and nudging it toward cooperation with the IAEA inspection.

    As such, the speech was bound to give a greater voice to hardline Israel leaders who say that both diplomatic efforts and economic penalties have failed to move Iran, leaving military strikes as the only alternative to stopping it from developing nuclear weapons.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a direct appeal to American voters on Sunday to elect a president willing to draw a “red line” with Iran.

    In the past week, Netanyahu has called on President Barack Obama and other world leaders to state clearly at what point Iran would face a military attack. But Obama and his top aides, who repeatedly say all options remain on the table, have pointed to shared U.S.-Israeli intelligence that suggests Iran hasn’t decided yet whether to build a bomb despite pursing the technology and that there would be time for action beyond toughened sanctions already in place.

    Tehran denies seeking nuclear arms and Abbasi, an Iranian vice president whom the agency suspects may have been involved in nuclear weapons research, again insisted on Monday that his country’s nuclear program is aimed only at making reactor fuel and medical research.

    “The Islamic Republic of Iran … has always opposed and will always denounce the manufacture and use of weapons of mass destruction,” he said.

    Tehran has long dismissed suspicions that it may re-engineer its uranium enrichment program from making reactor fuel to producing nuclear warheads and says accusations that it has worked secretly on nuclear arms are based on fabricated US and Israeli intelligence. It also frequently accuses the IAEA of anti-Iran bias in its push to ensure that all of Tehran’s nuclear activities are peaceful.

    But Abbasi’s comments Monday were the harshest to date on the agency itself.

    “Terrorists and saboteurs might have intruded the agency and might be making decisions covertly,” he said. Citing what he said was an example of sabotage last month at an underground enrichment plant, he said IAEA inspectors arrived shortly after power lines were blown up to inspect the premises.

    “Does this visit have any connection to that detonation?,” he asked.

    Alluding to the United States in arguing that pressure on Iran was an attack on all developing nations’ nuclear rights, Abbasi invoked US-led sanctions on its oil exports and transports and financial transactions as “the ugly face of colonialization and modern slavery.”

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