Donald Trump Explosion Intelwars Iran nuclear facility ISRAEL Joe Biden nuclear deal Nuclear weapons uranium enrichment

Report: Israel suspected in large explosion at Iranian nuclear site, a ‘severe blow’ that may prevent uranium enrichment there for rest of 2021

Israel is suspected of being behind a large explosion at Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment site Sunday, which resulted in a blackout and the complete destruction of its power system. It could prevent the facility from enriching uranium for the rest of year, the New York Times reported, citing anonymous intelligence officials.

What are the details?

The Times cited two officials who described a classified Israeli operation that dealt a “severe blow” to Iran’s ability to enrich uranium — and that it could take at least nine months to restore Natanz’s production.

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, called it an act of “nuclear terrorism” and said the international community must confront the threat, the paper reported.

“The action this morning against the Natanz enrichment site shows the defeat of those who oppose our country’s nuclear and political development and the significant gains of our nuclear industry,” Salehi said, according to Times, which cited Iranian news media. “The incident shows the failure of those who oppose Iran negotiating for sanctions relief.”

The act also “injected new uncertainty into diplomatic efforts that began last week to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal repudiated by the Trump administration,” the paper noted.

More from the Times:

Iran did not say precisely what had caused the blackout at the heavily fortified site, which has been a target of previous sabotage, and Israel publicly declined to confirm or deny any responsibility. But American and Israeli intelligence officials said there had been an Israeli role. […]

It was not immediately clear how much advance word — if any — the Biden administration received about the Natanz operation, which happened on the same morning that the American defense secretary, Lloyd J. Austin III, was visiting Israel. But Israeli officials have made no secret of their unhappiness over Mr. Biden’s desire to revive the nuclear agreement that his predecessor renounced in 2018.

The talks to salvage the nuclear agreement — i.e., Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — are set to resume this week, the paper added.

‘Sabotage and infiltration’

Malek Shariati Niasar, an Iranian lawmaker and spokesman for the Parliament’s energy committee, said on Twitter that the outage was “very suspicious” and raised the possibility of “sabotage and infiltration,” the Times reported.

More from the paper:

Some Iranian experts dismissed initial speculation that a cyberattack could have caused the power loss. The Natanz complex has its own power grid, multiple backup systems and layers of security protection intended to stop such an attack from abruptly shutting down its system.

“It’s hard to imagine that it was a cyberattack,” said Ali Vaez, the Iran project director at the International Crisis Group. “The likely scenario is that it either targeted the facility indirectly or through physical infiltration.” The intelligence officials said it was indeed a detonation of explosives.

What else has gone down?

Iranian military leaders threatened Israel following mysterious explosions at Iranian nuclear and military sites last year, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

“We warn the Zionist liars and their puppeteers that if they continue their prattle, they will see the upper hand of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the resistance front in action,” Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi was quoted as saying in the country’s state-controlled press, the Free Beacon said.

In November Iran claimed one of its top nuclear scientists was assassinated with Israeli involvement. The Israeli government believed Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was the mastermind directing Iran’s nuclear weapons program in the early 2000s.

Immediately following Fakhrizadeh’s death, the New York Times was blasted for calling Iran’s nuclear program “peaceful.”

In December Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said he had “no doubt” that then-President-elect Joe Biden will “bow” to Iran and rejoin the nuclear deal.

Indeed, the Biden administration in February said it was ready to begin talks with Iran to rejoin the deal.

(H/T: The Daily Wire)

China Intelwars Nuclear weapons state department

China may have conducted secret nuclear tests; Chinese government refutes US State Department report

China may have conducted secret nuclear tests that potentially violated an international agreement, according to a U.S. State Department report. The Chinese government has refuted the accusations made by the U.S.

China may have secretly conducted underground low-yield nuclear tests in the northwest region of the country, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. “Some compliance concerns are raised and some findings of violations are made,” the State Department claimed.

“China’s possible preparation to operate its Lop Nur test site year-round, its use of explosive containment chambers, extensive excavation activities at Lop Nur, and a lack of transparency on its nuclear testing activities … raise concerns regarding its adherence to the zero yield standard,” the report stated.

Nuclear test explosions are banned under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The CTBT allows counties to carry out testing and other activities to ensure the safety of nuclear weapons, but nuclear explosive reactions are prohibited.

China, which is estimated to have about 300 nuclear weapons, and the U.S. are two of the eight countries who have signed the 1996 accord. However, neither country has ratified it, so they aren’t bound to the treaty and aren’t obliged to allow inspections. The U.S. and China say they obey the terms of the nuclear agreement despite not ratifying it. Russia, France, and the United Kingdom have signed and ratified the CTBT.

The U.S. is suspicious that the Chinese government is testing nuclear weapons because, in recent years, there have been interruptions of data transmissions from monitoring stations in China that detect radioactive emissions and seismic activity.

A spokeswoman for the CTBT organization informed the Wall Street Journal that there had been no interruptions in data transmissions from China’s five sensor stations since the end of August 2019, following an interruption that started in 2018.

The Chinese Communist Party denied the American allegations and called the accusations “a complete distortion of the facts.”

“The U.S. neglects all the facts and makes wanton accusations against China. This is irresponsible and ill-intentioned,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Thursday. “The U.S. criticism of China is entirely groundless, without foundation, and not worth refuting.”

This charge against China follows a Fox News report that was released on Wednesday, alleging that the coronavirus originated from a virology lab in Wuhan, China.