Iran on Monday blamed Israel for a sabotage attack on its underground Natanz nuclear facility that damaged the centrifuges it uses to enrich uranium there, warning that it would take revenge for the assault.
The comments by Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh represent the first official accusation levelled against Israel for the incident Sunday that cut power across the facility.
Israel has not directly claimed responsibility for the attack. However, suspicion fell immediately on it as media there nearly uniformly reported a devastating cyberattack orchestrated by the country caused the blackout.
If Israel was responsible, it would further heighten tensions between the two nations, already engaged in a shadow conflict across the wider Middle East. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who met Sunday with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, has vowed to do everything in his power to stop the nuclear deal.
Details remained few about what happened early Sunday morning at the facility. The event was initially described as a blackout caused by the electrical grid feeding its above-ground workshops and underground enrichment halls.
"The answer for Natanz is avenging Israel," Khatibzadeh said. "Israel will receive its answer through its own path." He did not elaborate.
Khatibzadeh acknowledged that IR-1 centrifuges, the first-generation workhorse of Iran's uranium enrichment, had been damaged in the attack. However, he did not elaborate. State television has yet to show any images from the facility.