The "accident" that damaged a building at the Natanz nuclear center in central Iran on Thursday caused "significant damage" and "could slow" the production of advanced centrifuges for the production of enriched uranium, according to an official source said on Sunday July 5.
Tehran said on Thursday an "accident" in the nuclear complex housing a major uranium enrichment plant. While Iranian media pointed out it was accidental, Iranian leaders have warned the US and Israel to ‘not play games that cross lines.’ Emphasizing that the lines are very close to being crossed.
The Iranian authorities have declared that they have established "precisely the causes of the accident" but affirmed that they did not want to reveal them to the public immediately "for certain security reasons.”
"There have been no casualties (...) but the damage is significant from a financial point of view," said Iranian Atomic Energy Organization (OIEA) spokesperson Behrouz Kamalvandi in a published interview.
Sunday evening by the official IRNA agency, without going into the nature of the damage.
On Thursday, Mr. Kamalvandi presented the damaged building - apparently by fire, according to images published by the OIEA and state television - as "a warehouse.” But in his interview with IRNA, he declared that "it was planned" that this room would eventually produce "more advanced centrifuges.”
He did not say clearly whether such machines had already started to be assembled there. What he did say was that Iran would adjust to the situation and contingency plans are already in place to keep their program on track. Few analysts believe this is possible under the heavy scrutiny and sanctions Iran is facing.
“In the medium term, this accident could slow down the plan for the development and production of advanced [centrifuges] , but God willing, and with the incessant efforts (…) of colleagues [of the OIEA] we will compensate for this slowdown so that more capacity is created on this site than before, ”he adds.
According to IRNA, the spokesman stressed that the current uranium enrichment activities at Natanz were not affected by the accident.
Under the agreement on its controversial nuclear program it concluded in Vienna in 2015 with the international community, the Islamic Republic is obliged to use only a limited number of so-called “first generation” centrifuges.
But since May 2019, in response to the decision taken a year earlier by the United States to denounce this pact and restore economic sanctions against it, Iran has gradually freed itself from the key commitments to which it had subscribed under the Vienna accords.
Tehran has thus relaunched the enriched uranium production activities it had agreed to suspend at Natanz. Iran has also announced that it will remove all restrictions on its uranium enrichment research and development activities and work on the development of more efficient centrifuges.
But Tehran reiterates that it has no intention of acquiring the atomic bomb, as accused by the United States and Israel – however their ‘land-bridge’ supply route from Iraq through Syria to Lebanon has all been about smuggling weapons and components not allowed under sanctions.
In recent weeks, the Israeli Air Force has been suspected of bombing over two dozen suspected Iranian weapons facilities in Syria. Israel never comments on any actions in defense of their nation.