The Slatest

Israel Reportedly Behind Cyberattack That Caused Blackout at Iran Nuclear Facility

A general view of the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, is seen on April 9, 2007, 180 miles south of Tehran, Iran.
A general view of the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, is seen on April 9, 2007, 180 miles south of Tehran, Iran. Majid Saeedi/Getty Images

Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency was behind a cyberattack that sparked a blackout in Iran’s Natanz atomic facility, sources told Israeli media outlets. Although Israel isn’t actually confirming anything, it’s giving some hints that are leading many to say it amounts to a veritable confirmation that it was behind the attack that Iran described as an act of “nuclear terrorism.” Israeli media uniformly reported that Israel was behind the attack as the government didn’t impose any censorship restrictions on covering the incident. Even public radio said the Mossad intelligence agency played a key role in the attack, notes the Guardian. For some, the Israel connection was just a question of common sense. “On the basis of past media reports, one can infer that this was caused by an Israeli cyberattack,” Amos Harel writes in Haaretz.

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Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi also made a statement Sunday that many saw as a “strong hint,” as the Jerusalem Post puts it, that Israel was involved in the attack. “The IDF’s actions throughout the Middle East are not hidden from our enemies’ vision, who are observing us, seeing our capabilities and carefully considering their next steps,” he said.

The apparent attack took place shortly after Iranian officials said more than 150 new uranium enrichment centrifuges were going to be launched at Natanz’s underground facility, which would speed up the production of enriched uranium. Although details of the attack were scant, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization acknowledged the attack had damaged the site’s electrical grid. Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the agency, didn’t go into details about what happened but his comments on state television “suggested a serious disruption,” reports the Associated Press. “The action this morning against 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. Israeli officials also said the attack was more serious than Iran was letting on and local outlets reported the power outage caused severe damage.

The apparent attack took place a day after Iran celebrated its National Nuclear Technology Day and as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Israel at a time when President Joe Biden is attempting to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that was a centerpiece of former President Barack Obama’s administration. Last week, there was an explosion on an Iranian Revolutionary Guard ship, which Tehran blamed on Israel.

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