Iran suffers devastating blow to nuclear efforts after fire ravages key site

This is according to an agency report by IRNA. Iranian officials had previously sought to downplay the fire, which erupted early on Thursday, calling it only an “incident” that affected an “industrial shed.” However, a released photo and video of the site broadcast by Iranian state television showed a two-story brick building with scorch marks and its roof apparently destroyed.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, who is a spokesman for the Iranian nuclear agency said that work had begun on the centre back in 2013.

Where in 2018 it took part in an inauguration ceremony.

“More advanced centrifuge machines were intended to be built there,” he said.

Further adding that the damage would “possibly cause a delay in the development and production of advanced centrifuge machines in the medium term.”

In terms of what damage the fire had caused, he said it was likely that “precision and measuring instruments,” had been tarnished.

And that the centre had not been operating at full capacity due to restrictions imposed by Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Iran began experimenting with advanced centrifuge models in the wake of the US unilaterally withdrawing from the deal two years ago.

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Iranian experts revealed they had never heard of the group before, and raised questions about whether Natanz again had faced sabotage by a foreign nation.

This had happened previously during the Stuxnet computer virus outbreak believed to have been engineered by the U.S. and Israel.

The Natanz fire also came less than a week after an explosion in an area east of Tehran that analysts believe hides an underground tunnel system and missile production sites.

AP spoke to two US-based analysts on Friday relying on released pictures and satellite images, identifying the affected building as Natanz’s new Iran Centrifuge Assembly Center.

A satellite image on Friday by Planet Labs Inc., annotated by experts at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Middlebury Institute of International Studies, shows what appears to be damage done to half of the building.

Destroying a centrifuge assembly facility could greatly impact Iran’s ability to more-quickly enrich greater amounts of uranium, which would be a goal for either Israel or the U.S.

The country’s main uranium enrichment facility is today being hosted by Natanz.

In its long underground halls, centrifuges rapidly spin uranium hexafluoride gas to enrich uranium.

Currently, the IAEA says Iran enriches uranium to about 4.5 per cent purity — above the terms of the nuclear deal but far below weapons-grade levels of 90 per cent.

Workers there also have conducted tests on advanced centrifuges, according to the IAEA.