Iran state TV identifies man it says was behind blast at Natanz nuclear site

The disruption at the Natanz facility showed there was an attempt to thwart Iran's atomic progress.
The disruption at the Natanz facility showed there was an attempt to thwart Iran's atomic progress.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

IRAN (REUTER) - Iran's state television on Saturday (April 17) identified a man it said was behind a recent explosion at its main Natanz nuclear plant.

"Reza Karimi, the perpetrator of this sabotage..., has been identified," said Iran’s intelligence ministry, according to state TV.

It said the suspect had fled Iran before last Sunday’s blast that the Islamic Republic has blamed on arch-foe Israel. 

The television showed what it said was a photograph of the suspected perpetrator on a red card that had "Interpol Wanted" written on it.

The card listed his age as 43.

"Necessary steps are under way for his arrest and return to the country through legal channels," the report added.

State TV also aired footage of rows of what it said were centrifuges which had replaced the ones damaged in the blast at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant. 

It added that "a large number" of centrifuges, whose enrichment activity was disrupted by the explosion, had been returned to normal service, the report said. 

Iran and global powers are meeting in Vienna to try to rescue the 2015 nuclear deal abandoned by Washington three years ago.

The talks are potentially complicated by Teheran’s decision to ramp up uranium enrichment and what it called Israeli sabotage at the Natanz nuclear site. 

Meanwhile a source, echoing Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s stance, reiterated Iran’s demand for the removal of all sanctions imposed under former President Donald Trump. 

"In Teheran, nothing will be accepted but the removal of all sanctions, including those related to the JCPOA (nuclear accord), reimposed and relabeled during the Trump era," the unnamed source told Iran’s state-run Press TV. 

Israeli media outlets have quoted unnamed intelligence sources as saying the country’s Mossad spy service carried out the Natanz sabotage operation.

Israel – widely believed to be the only Middle Eastern country with a nuclear arsenal – has not formally commented on the incident.