Iran admits significant damage from fire at Natanz nuclear facility

Iran admits significant damage from fire at Natanz nuclear facility
Iran admits significant damage from fire at Natanz nuclear facility

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - A fire that broke out at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility on Thursday caused significant damage, the country's atomic agency said on Sunday.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, said the fire could slow down Tehran's development and production of advanced centrifuges in the medium term, and that Iran would replace the damaged building with a bigger one that had more advanced equipment.

The agency initially reported only that an "incident" had occurred early on Thursday at Natanz, located in the desert in the central province of Isfahan. It later published a photo of a one-storey brick building with its roof and walls partly burned. A door hanging off its hinges suggested there had been an explosion inside the building.

Iranian officials subsequently suggested that the fire might have been the result of a cyber attack but refused to make the cause public due to "security reasons".

The Iranian News Agency quoted Iran's nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, as saying on Sunday that that "various scenarios" about the incident were under investigation and the results would be announced soon.

The agency also quoted Mr Kamalvandi as saying uranium enrichment was continuing far from the site of the fire.

The Natanz uranium-enrichment site, much of which is underground, is one of several Iranian facilities monitored by inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog.

The IAEA said on Friday that the location of the fire did not contain nuclear materials, and that none of its inspectors was present at the time.

The fire at Natanz came less than week after a mysterious blast at a suspected missile development facility at Parchin, east of Tehran.

Iranian officials said the explosion, which was felt in the capital about 20 kilometres away, was caused by a gas leak.

Updated: July 5, 2020 10:13 PM

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