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Iranian officials revealed on Monday that several “new acts of sabotage” had taken place at its controversial Arak nuclear reactor facility and that other so-called “enemy plots” had been carried out at separate key nuclear sites.
Iranian security forces told the country’s state-run press early Monday that these “new acts of sabotage” had been discovered at the Arak heavy water reactor, which has been jointly built with aid from Russia.
Iran accused foreign forces of carrying out the act of sabotage, but did not immediately name any one nation it believes to be responsible for the supposed tampering at Arak.
The Arak nuclear reactor has emerged as a sticking point in negotiations between Tehran and the West due to its ability to provide Iran with a second, plutonium-based path to a nuclear weapon.
The reported acts of sabotage were spotted during inspections of the facility by Iranian intelligence forces and later reported by the country’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI), according to the Fars News Agency.
“Intelligence inspections of the nuclear facilities indicated that some pumps of the second circuitry of Arak’s IR40 project had undergone mechanical operations in a bid to disrupt the routine work of the power plant,” Asqar Zare’an, the AEOI’s deputy chief for nuclear protection and security, was quoted as saying over the weekend.
It is unclear how these faulty pumps made their way into the reactor and Iranian authorities have yet to name the contractor who imported them.
Iran’s security forces claim to have immediately “foiled” the attack and disrupted the so-called “sabotage.”
Iranian security forces additionally claim that they have “identified and defused several enemy plots and acts of sabotage against the country’s industrial sector,” including those aimed at Iran’s nuclear facilities, according to Zare’an.
These instances of sabotage have been discovered in just the past several months, according to Zare’an.
“Some acts of sabotage in the industrial sector have been identified and foiled in the last few months through cooperation between the intelligence ministry and other security bodies,” he was quoted as saying.
In a bid to counter nuclear sabotage, the AEOI has started to establish “special laboratories for defusing industrial acts of sabotage,” according to Zare’an.
Iranian forces last sounded the alarm about nuclear sabotage in October, when it claimed to have “defused” several plots and arrested “a number of spies.”
"The enemy always seeks to strike a blow at the country's nuclear installations and therefore, the AEOI's guard units bear a highly heavy responsibility,” a top Iranian military leader said at the time.
Iran routinely accuses the United States and Israel of attempting to not only damage its nuclear program but also assassinate key individuals associated with it.
Many believe that the United States and Israel were behind a 2010 Internet virus called Stuxnet. The virus infiltrated Iran’s nuclear network and caused its centrifuges to spin wildly out of the control.
Former Pentagon adviser and terrorism expert Michael Rubin said that Iran has long been engaged in a clandestine cyber war with the West and Israel. For this reason, it is not surprising that this type of sabotage would take place.
"The irony here is that the Revolutionary Guards brag about their own cyber warfare capabilities and Iranian cyber attacks on both U.S. and Israeli targets are constant," said Rubin, author of the book, Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes. "It's that old adage, don't dish it out if you can't take it."