Iran gives details of latest sabotage attempt against its nuclear programme
20 September 2012
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 nuclear programme, its nuclear energy chief said on September 17. Reuters said it was believed to be the first time Iran had mentioned the incident, which atomic energy organization chief Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani said took place on August 17.
A satellite image of Iran's Fordow underground nuclear facility
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.
"We found a tiny explosive material placed inside the vacuum equipment of a centrifuge, aimed to damage the centrifuge. Iran bought 200 vacuum items from overseas markets four years ago and the saboteurs waited until this equipment could be installed on the centrifuges," Abbasi-Davani said.
The West suspects the programme is aimed at developing an atomic bomb capability but Tehran says it is purely peaceful.
Iran has accused Israel and Western intelligence agencies of being behind the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists, mysterious crashes of aircraft carrying physicists and generals, and the cyber attacks that have been carried out on Iranian nuclear facilities over the past three years.
Iran uses the Fordow facility to enrich uranium to a higher fissile concentration, taking it significantly closer to the 90% level needed for bombs. It built the site some 80 meters below rock and soil to better protect it against enemy strikes.
The United States and its allies have launched a major naval exercise in the Gulf they say shows a global will to keep oil shipping lanes open as Israel and Iran trade threats of war.