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Iran Hints At Cyber Attacks By Israel or US at Natanz Nuclear Facility; Vows Retaliation

The Natanz nuclear facility is primarily used for uranium-enrichment and is under the watch of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

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Iran has threatened to retaliate after an attack on its Natanz nuclear factory. A fire broke out at the Natanz nuclear facility earlier this week and the Iranian government has vowed to retaliate against any country, including Israel and the US.

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According to reports, Iran believes the attack on Natanz possibly involved the use of cyber warfare. Gholamreza Jalali, the head of the civilian defence, said that responding to cyberattacks is part of Iran’s defence might. ”If it is proven that our country has been targeted by a cyberattack, we will respond,” he said.

The Natanz nuclear facility is primarily used for uranium-enrichment and is under the watch of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear watchdog. The IAEA confirmed that the location of the fire did not contain nuclear materials and that none of its inspectors was on-site at the time of the incident.

Tehran’s top security body announced on Friday that an incident had been reported at the nuclear facility and it would reveal full details at a convenient time “due to security considerations”. Images published by Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation suggests that there had been an explosion inside the building.

An article by Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), addressed the possibility of sabotage by enemies such as Israel and the United States and warned enemy countries to revise their foreign policy against Tehran.

“So far Iran has tried to prevent intensifying crises and the formation of unpredictable conditions and situations,” IRNA said. “But the crossing of red lines of the Islamic Republic of Iran by hostile countries, especially the Zionist regime and the U.S., means that strategy … should be revised.”

Suspicion on US and Israel

Iranian officials who spoke to Reuters believe that the fire was the result of a cyberattack, but did not cite any evidence. One official said that the attack had targeted a centrifuge assembly building and that adversaries of Iran had carried out similar attacks in the past.

The 2010 Stuxnet computer virus is a case in point. The virus, which is believed to be developed by Washington or Tel Aviv, was discovered after it was used to attack the Natanz facility a decade ago.

However, cybersecurity experts such as Lukasz Olejnik argue that incident at Natanz did not necessarily say much about what transpired on Thursday. “Events taking place more than 10 years ago, and once, in themselves cannot form any evidence about things happening today,” Olejnik said.

Two Iranian officials even pinned the possible cyberattack on Israel but did not offer any evidence for their claim. Upon being quizzed about the attack on Natanz, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu told reporters: “Clearly we can’t get into that.”

Israeli military and Netanyahu’s office, which oversees Israel’s foreign intelligence service Mossad, did not immediately respond to Reuters queries on Friday.

Iran’s nuclear program has been the bone of contention between Washington and Tehran. After the Donald Trump administration pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran’s nuclear situation has been left in limbo.

Washington and Tel Aviv allege that Tehran is using the nuclear facilities for developing nuclear weapons. Iran claims that the nuclear facilities, including the one at Natanz, are being used for peaceful purposes. After the US pulled out of the JCPOA, Iran announced that it would suspend implementation of some parts of the agreement, thus escalating the rift between the two rivals.

Armaan Srivastava

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