State television named the suspect as Reza Karimi, 43. It showed a passport-style photograph of a man identified as Karimi, claiming he was born in the nearby town of Kashan, Iran.
The report also disseminated what appeared to be a “red notice” from Interpol calling for his arrest. The arrest notice was not immediately accessible in Interpol’s public database. Interpol, based in Lyon, France, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The TV report said “necessary actions” are underway to bring Karimi back to Iran through legal channels, without giving further details. Interpol’s supposed “red notice” mentioned its history of overseas travel as including Ethiopia, Kenya, the Netherlands, Qatar, Romania, Turkey, Uganda and the United Arab Emirates.
The report did not specify how Karimi would have gained access to one of the most secure facilities in the Islamic Republic. However, he first made an offer to authorities acknowledging that an explosion had hit Natanz’s facility.
There was “a limited explosion of a small part of the electrical supply path to the centrifuge hall,” the TV report said. “The explosion occurred because of the explosive material function and there was no cyber attack.”
Early reports in the Israeli media, which have close ties to its military and intelligence services, accused a cyberattack of the damage.
Iranian state television also said that there were images that corroborated the account of an explosion rather than a cyberattack offered by the security services, but did not broadcast the images.
The report also showed centrifuges in a room, along with what appeared to be a warning at the Natanz factory. In one shot, a TV reporter interviewed an anonymous technician, who was shown from behind – likely a safety measure as Iranian nuclear scientists have been murdered in alleged attacks orchestrated by Israel in the past.
“The sound you hear is the sound of running machines which luckily are not damaged,” he says, the high-pitched whine of centrifuges heard in the background. “Many centrifuge chains that have faults are now under control. Some of the work that had been interrupted will be back on track thanks to the around-the-clock efforts of my colleagues. ”
In Vienna, negotiations continued on Saturday on the agreement. The 2015 deal, from which former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States in 2018, prevented Iran from storing enough highly enriched uranium to be able to use a nuclear weapon if it chose in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.
Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful, although the West and the IAEA say Tehran had an organized military nuclear program until the end of 2003. An annual US intelligence report released Tuesday maintained the long-standing US assessment that Iran is not currently trying to build a nuclear bomb.
Iran had previously said it could use uranium enriched up to 60% for nuclear-powered ships. However, the Islamic Republic currently has no such vessel in its navy.
Natanz’s attack was initially described only as a blackout in his power grid – but later Iranian authorities began to label it as an attack.
An Iranian official referred to “several thousand damaged and destroyed centrifuges” in an interview on public television. However, no other official has offered the figure and no pictures of the consequences have been released.