The flag of Iran is seen in front of the building of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Headquarters ahead of a press conference by Rafael Grossi, Director General of the IAEA, about the agency’s monitoring of Iran’s nuclear energy program on May 24, 2021 in Vienna, Austria.
Michael Gruber | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Iranian authorities foiled a “sabotage attack” against one of its civilian nuclear facilities, local news site Nournews reported Wednesday, offering no further details.
The website is believed to have links to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, according to the Associated Press. Iran’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately reply to a CNBC request for comment.
The report comes just days after the election of hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi to Iran’s presidency. Raisi has expressed vocal anti-Western sentiment but supports a return to the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal with the U.S. and other world powers.
The developments also come as talks continue in Vienna among Iran and the rest of the 2015 deal’s signatories to revive the agreement, which lifted sanctions on the Islamic Republic in exchange for limits to its nuclear program, but from which the U.S. under former President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018.
Since then, amid a raft of economically crippling U.S. sanctions, Iran has ramped up its nuclear activities in violation of the deal, spiking tensions with the West, particularly Washington.
Iran is now enriching its uranium to 60% purity, dramatically higher than the 3.67% level permitted under the 2015 deal.
“A country enriching at 60 percent is a very serious thing — only countries making bombs are reaching this level,” IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said in late May.
“Sixty percent is almost weapons grade, commercial enrichment is 2, 3 (percent).”
Tehran maintains that its nuclear program is solely for civilian purposes and that is has a sovereign right to pursue it.