An explosion at one of Iran’s most important nuclear facilities, Natanz, took place on Thursday, damaging the power plant, but leaving its reactor intact. The cause of the explosion has not been officially confirmed.
An explosion at the Natanz nuclear power plant in Iran’s Isfahan was caused by an “explosive device planted inside the facility”, The New York Times reported, citing an unnamed Middle East intelligence official.
According to the official cited, the blast destroyed “much of the aboveground parts” of the facility, where cutting-edge centrifuges had been placed before being put into operation.
The early Thursday explosion resulted in a fire and was confirmed by Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, with agency spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi saying that the plant “is operating as usual”, since the reactor was not damaged in the incident and there were no casualties.
Kamalvandi also noted that there has been no pollution at the site, as there was no nuclear material on the plant.
Some reports have suggested that the explosion could have been a result of “sabotage”, as the BBC’s Persian service reported that a group naming itself “Homeland Cheetahs” claimed responsibility for the incident.
Natanz is the country’s primary uranium processing facility, located 270 km south of the Iranian capital.
Iran stepped away from its nuclear commitments, responding to the Trump administration in 2018 unilaterally withdrawing from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear treaty.
Despite the roll-back of its commitments, Tehran has repeatedly stressed that it has no goal of manufacturing nuclear weapons, intending to develop a peaceful nuclear program. According to Kamalvandi, Iran has “produced materials over 3.67 percent and above 300 kilograms”.