Topline

A power blackout at an Iranian atomic facility in Natanz Sunday morning was caused by a cyberattack launched by Israeli security services, according to media outlets in Israel, a move that underscores the tension between the two countries as the U.S. and Iran begin to resume diplomatic efforts to reach a new nuclear deal.

Key Facts

Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesperson for the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, said Sunday the Natanz facility’s power network had been affected by an “incident” that morning, later adding there had been “no casualties or leaks” as a result.

AEOI boss Ali Akbar Salehi described the situation as “a despicable move,” calling on the international powers to “deal with this nuclear terrorism,” in a statement that evening, the BBC reported.

The Times of Israel reported intelligence sources told Hebrew media that Israeli security service Mossad was responsible, and that the attack was far more serious than Iran let on.

The alleged attack took place just after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani inaugurated new high-tech centrifuges for uranium enrichment at the Natanz facility during a televised ceremony broadcast.

Iran producing enriched uranium, which can be used to create bombs, violates the previous 2015 nuclear deal.

Key Background  

The blackout comes as the U.S. considers reentering a nuclear deal with Iran after the 2015 Obama-era agreement fell apart during President Donald Trump’s time in office. The Biden administration has signaled a willingness to re-enter a deal. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin traveled to Tel Aviv this weekend, where he met with Israeli officials and described America’s commitment to Israel as “ironclad.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has for years railed against another nuclear deal with Iran, saying Iran getting its hands on a nuclear weapon would be dangerous for Israel. “History has taught us that deals like this, with extremist regimes like this, are worth nothing,” Netanyahu said last week, according to the Associated Press.

Further Reading

Intel officials say Mossad behind Natanz power cut; Iran calls it ‘terrorism’ (Times Of Israel)

Iran nuclear: ‘Terrorist act’ at underground Natanz facility (BBC)

Pentagon chief declares ‘ironclad’ US commitment to Israel (Associated Press)

Iran Is Reportedly Producing Uranium Metal, Key Component Of Nuclear Weapons (Forbes)

State Department Says Biden Willing To Talk With Iran Over Re-Entering Nuclear Deal (Forbes)