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'Accident' hits Natanz nuke site: Top Iranian official blames 'sabotage' UPDATES

Natanz nuclear facility
© AFP
Aerial shot of Iran's Natanz nuclear facility located south of Tehran, January 2020.
A spokesman for Iran's civilian nuclear program said Sunday an "accident" has struck the electrical distribution grid of the country's Natanz nuclear facility, without elaborating. Behrouz Kamalvandi made the comment Sunday, saying there were no injuries or pollution caused by the incident, adding that "electricity was affected at the Natanz facility."

Malek Shariati Niasar, a lawmaker who serves as spokesman for the Iranian parliament's energy committee, wrote on Twitter that the incident was "very suspicious," raising concerns about possible "sabotage and infiltration." He said lawmakers were pursuing details of the incident as well. The cause was being investigated, Kamalvandi told Iran's semi-official Fars news agency.

A spokesman for the UN nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency said by email: "We are aware of the media reports. We have no comment at this stage."

Comment: All roads lead to Israel, according to Iran and Israeli news:
Iran's Vice-President Ali Akbar Salehi has announced that Tehran is treating today's incident involving Natanz nuclear plant's power grid as an act of "nuclear terrorism":
"Iran condemns this heinous attack and reminds the international community and the [International Atomic Energy Agency] of the need to combat such acts of nuclear terrorism."
The vice-president added that the Islamic republic reserves the right to respond appropriately to whoever Tehran finds is guilty of the attack. At the same time, Salehi described today's incident at the nuclear plant as "evidence" that Iran's enemies were "failing" to impede the country's success in the sphere of nuclear energy and in negotiations, by which he presumably meant talks between the US and Tehran on their both returning to the JCPOA.

A member of Iran's parliament, Malek Shariati Niasar said that Tehran also suspects an act of "sabotage" caused the incident at the nuclear facility. He noted that the power grid incident took place on Iran's National Nuclear Technology Day and also amid attempts to return the US to complying with the Iran nuclear deal and lift its sanctions.

Stuxnet Virus Strikes Again?

Ahead of Vice-President Salehi's announcement, The Jerusalem Post issued a report, claiming that the 11 April incident at Natanz was not an "accident", but the result of a cyberattack, and resulted in greater damage to the facility than Tehran is ready to admit [and] alleged that Israel might be behind the purported cyber intrusion.

If the report true, this will be at least the second time Natanz is hit with a cyberattack in its history. Several cybersecurity companies reported that a virus called Stuxnet ... infected the machines operating the centrifuges, reportedly forcing them to spin at extreme speeds and in effect ripping themselves apart.

Several media reports suggested that Stuxnet was developed jointly by Israeli and American specialists, and released by Tel Aviv against the Iranian nuclear facility. Neither Washington nor Tel Aviv confirmed or denied the report.
Update 11/4/2021: Israeli radio cites intel claiming Mossad hit Iran's Natanz nuclear facility with cyberattack:
An unspecified incident occurred at the electricity distribution network of the Shahid Ahmadi Roshan facility in Natanz earlier in the day. Israeli state broadcaster, Kan Radio, has announced, citing anonymous intelligence sources, that the country's intelligence service, Mossad, had targeted Iran's Natanz nuclear facility with a cyberattack. The announcement did not specify where the intelligence data came from.

Iran's vice-president and atomic energy chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, later in the day told Iranian television that the incident was an act of "nuclear terrorism" but that "opponents of negotiations on lifting sanctions against Iran... had failed."

On Saturday, Iran launched new uranium enrichment centrifuges.
See also: Update: 12/4/2021: The incident has been assessed as a deliberately planned explosion' by sources within US/Israeli intelligence:
What was earlier suspected by some to be a cyber attack, appeared to be a powerful explosion that has destroyed the well-guarded internal energy system that fed the underground centrifuges that enrich uranium. Citing sources, the newspaper claimed that the Natanz incident was a "classified Israeli operation".

The explosion is reportedly a devastating blow to Iran's ability to enrich uranium and it could take at least 9 months to resume work in the facility.

The NYT also noted that it is unclear whether the Biden administration was aware of the alleged Israeli operation. Washington has seen "reports of an incident", but the US "had no involvement, and said "we have nothing to add".
Update: 12/4/2021: Iran makes an accusation:
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has blamed Israel on Monday for the sabotage of the Natanz nuclear site:
"The Zionists want to take revenge because of our progress in the way to lift sanctions ... they have publicly said that they will not allow this. But we will take our revenge from the Zionists. Israel has publicly announced that it will not allow us to make progress in lifting restrictions, and it believes that it has succeeded in it."
Zarif went on to say that this "sabotage act" at the Natanz nuclear power plant will not weaken Tehran's position in the negotiations.
"The negotiating parties [in Vienna] should know that the Natanz reactor will henceforth be equipped with advanced centrifuges with high [uranium] enrichment capabilities."
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh later said that the Natanz attack was aimed at affecting JCPOA negotiations, as IR-1 uranium enrichment centrifuges were damaged in the incident.
"If the Natanz attack was aimed at slowing down our nuclear production, it failed. Israel will face a response in due time and place. Iran will replace the damaged uranium enrichment centrifuges with more advanced ones."
Update: 12/4/2021: A person involved in the attack is identified:
The identity of the person who disrupted the operation of the power grid at Natanz, as a result of which the electricity supply to a hall was interrupted, has been established and efforts to detain the malefactor is ongoing.
Update: 12/4/2021: How long ago was this attack in the planning?
The attack on Iran's Natanz nuclear facility was plotted "long before" the start of the ongoing meeting of the joint commission of the remaining members of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal, and was aimed at weakening Tehran's negotiating position at the meetings, The Jerusalem Post has reported, citing sources.

The paper's sources indicated that the attack's planners were uncertain whether Iran and the US would return to serious negotiations about Washington's possible rejoining of the nuclear accord. JPost's sources also gave the outlet the impression
"that the covert war against Iran is ongoing and constant and focused on preventing it from getting close to the nuclear threshold regardless of the world powers' specific policy on the issue at any given moment."
It could take at least nine months for work to resume at the facility.

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country would not be bound by any possible revival of the nuclear deal, warning Israel's "closest friends" in America that "a deal with Iran that threatens us with annihilation will not obligate us."
Update: 12/4/2021: True to his colors in broken record fashion, the Israeli PM said what we would expect:
Netanyahu, in a joint news conference following talks in Jerusalem with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, said:
"In the Middle East, there is no more serious threat than Iran. Iran has not abandoned its desire to possess nuclear weapons and has not stopped calling for the destruction of Israel. As Prime Minister of Israel, I will never allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons to carry out genocide against Israel. Israel will continue defend yourself."



Light Saber

Gaetz denies report on Trump refusing to meet him, demands CNN issue retraction

Matt Gaetz Donald Trump
© Instagram
Matt Gaetz with Donald Trump
​Rep. Matt Gaetz, who faces allegations of sexual misconduct, pushed back at CNN for claiming that former President Donald Trump refused to meet with him — calling the report a lie and demanding a retraction.

"This is a total lie. I am on a pre-planned vacation with my fiancée. I was welcomed at Trump Doral days ago," Gaetz posted on Twitter Sunday evening.

"No such meeting was denied nor sought. ... When can we expect a retraction?" he continued.

Comment: Has the Democrat machine had enough of Matt Gaetz, and is now employing one of the time-honored methods to take him down? How is he the target of a howling outrage mob when Hunter Biden's misdeeds are shrouded in media silence?


Bad Guys

Moscow's bid to make Donbass talks transparent evokes dread in Kiev, says Russian official

Dmitry Kozak
© Yekaterina Shtukina/Russian Government Press Office/TASS
Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Dmitry Kozak
The deputy chief of staff of the Presidential Executive Office reiterated that last summer he came up with an offer to organize a live stream of the talks that was turned down by Ukraine.

Russia favors full transparency of the Minsk talks and the publication of relevant documents, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Dmitry Kozak said at a meeting with experts from the Institute of World Economy and International Relations.
"Ukraine is terrified of its inconsistency being revealed. They are afraid to speak publicly," Kozak revealed. "We have offered transparency and live airtime so that everybody could see what is going on. Let us release the printed documents to the public," he said.

Comment: After the installation of their puppet Joe Biden as a US president, the PTB are now preparing Ukraine for another possible war with their biggest enemy, Russia, and Putin. Despite all the efforts by Russia to expose the real situation in Ukraine and to try to find a peaceful solution for the conflict, the psychopathic elites are leading Ukraine to a new disaster. They probably didn't learn the lessons from seven years ago and they will probably be doomed to repeat them.

See also:


Snakes in Suits

UK's Greensill lobbying scandal and former PM Cameron's involvement

Greensill

David Cameron and Lex Greensill
David Cameron is accused of lobbying the government via messages to the chancellor over a funding scheme for a firm he advises.

David Cameron has been in the headlines recently over his alleged involvement in a lobbying scandal with a firm he advises and the Treasury.

Sky News has broken down what is going on, who the key players are, and why the former prime minister is under fire.

What did David Cameron do?

Comment: The coronavirus hysteria has proven to be just one more profitable opportunity for those in government and their friends: Profiteering & cronyism: UK gov spent £122 MILLION on dodgy contract for PPE hospital gowns that it never used


X

PolitiFact drops 'mostly false' rating on Biden's guns claim

Joe Biden
© National Shooting Sports Foundation
US President Biden's finger gun
And Joe Biden got off easy, as our colleague and pal Cam Edwards pointed out. But it says something that PolitiFact came closer to upholding standards with Joe Biden than they did with CBS News and 60 Minutes. The lesson here is that only the media can truly get away with creating false narratives:
As I wrote yesterday, almost everything Biden said in his speech introducing David Chipman as his nominee to run ATF was false, including the "AFT" that Biden called the agency — twice. PolitiFact focuses only on one of those falsehoods — the hoary "gun show loophole" that never existed in the first place. Democratic politicians have tried making the same claim for years if not decades, but it's a flat-out lie.

Comment: Biden's target is to disarm the public - through confiscation, prohibitive costs, new rules, illegal leverage and persuasive falsehoods. Will it be a hit or a miss?


Attention

'We need a black woman justice': Democrat pressure group urges liberal judge, critical of SCOTUS-packing idea, to resign

Justice Breyer
© Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer
An advocacy group linked to Democratic Party leadership is pressuring Justice Stephen Breyer to resign after he opposed the push to expand the US Supreme Court - so that his position can be urgently filled with a black woman.

Breyer "has been a distinguished justice, but now is risking the Senate falling into Republican hands before Democrats can confirm Biden's nominee," the group tweeted.

Comment: The advocacy group's demand is outrageous, short-sighted and destructive as presented. (But perhaps that's the point.) In a power-grabbing free-for-all, MSNBC had this:



Arrow Down

Trump rips McConnell in speech to Republicans

McConnell/Trump
© Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images/www.slate.com/KJN
Senator Mitch McConnell • Former US President Donald Trump
Former President Trump reportedly tore into Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell during a gathering Saturday evening, condemning the Kentucky Republican for not doing more to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

According to The Washington Post, Trump referred to McConnell as a "dumb son of a bitch" during a speech to members of the Republican National Committee (RNC) at the former president's private Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and suggested Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) would have fought for Trump if they were in the same party. Trump told the assembled RNC members, according to the Post.:
"If that were Schumer instead of this dumb son of a bitch Mitch McConnell, they would never allow it to happen. They would have fought it. I hired his wife. Did he ever say thank you?"
Trump reportedly added, referring to his nomination of Elaine Chao, who served as Transportation secretary in the Trump administration and is married to McConnell.

The two top Republicans were publicly aligned throughout the four years of Trump's presidency, with McConnell opposing the former president's two impeachment trials. But their relationship soured in the weeks following the 2020 election as McConnell was reported to be urging senators not to oppose the certification of the results.

Arrow Up

In 5-4 vote, Supreme Court lifts California's COVID ban on group Bible study in homes

Supreme Court
© J. Scott Applewhite/AP
The Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill, Washington D.C.
The Supreme Court citing religious liberty, has lifted another of California's COVID restrictions, holding the state may not prevent people from gathering in homes for Bible study and prayer meetings. The court issued a 5-4 order near midnight Friday barring the enforcement of a state restriction that was due to expire on Thursday.

The court's conservatives slammed the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for what they called another "erroneous" decision in favor of the state.

"This is the fifth time the court has summarily rejected the 9th Circuit's analysis of California's COVID restrictions on religious exercise," they said in Tandon vs. Newsom. In the most significant of the rulings, the court in early February said churches in California may open for indoor worship services, so long as they enforced limits on how many people gathered together.

Repeatedly in these cases, judges in California and the justices in Washington have disagreed over how to compare, for example, people gathering in a restaurant or hair salon to people gathering for a worship service. The state has enforced stricter limits on indoor gatherings such as in theaters or churches where people sit together for an hour or more while allowing retail stores where people go in and out to remain open.

In the latest order, the conservative justices again noted that the state has opened public businesses while restricting religious gatherings. And they said the state regulators are violating the 1st Amendment's protection for the free exercise of religion "whenever they treat any comparable secular activity more favorably than religious exercise."

Star of David

IDF reportedly wants probe into leak of alleged Israeli attack on Iranian cargo ship

Iranian Ship Saviz
© Al Arabiya/Screenshot
Iranian ship 'Saviz' in the Red Sea, in 2018.
On Thursday, Iran vowed it would respond to a recent attack on a cargo ship in the Red Sea, once it uncovers the source of the assault, a statement that came after Israel reportedly claimed its forces attacked the vessel.

Officials from the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) have called for a probe into the leak of an alleged sensitive operation that was recently conducted by the IDF against Iran, to foreign media, according to The Jerusalem Post.

The reported call comes a few days after The New York Times cited an unnamed source as saying that Israel notified the United States that its forces had attacked an Iranian cargo ship, the Saviz, in the Red Sea.


Comment: See also:


Bad Guys

Istanbul meeting has Erdogan and Zelensky confirm 'strategic partnership'

erdogan zelensky meeting ukraine turkey
© Agence France-Presse
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in Istanbul on April 10.
President Erdogan praised cooperation between the two countries, especially regarding the defence industry.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced following talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky that Ankara and Kiev have agreed to continue their "strategic partnership." Erdogan added that ensuring security and peace in the Black Sea region is Turkey's priority.

Comment: From RFL/RL:
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called for an end to what he described as "worrying" developments in eastern Ukraine's Donbas region after meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on April 10.

The meeting, which lasted more than three hours in Istanbul, was part of a previously scheduled visit but coincided with increased tensions between Kyiv and Moscow over the long-running conflict in eastern Ukraine.

During their meeting the presidents also discussed expanding defense cooperation between their countries. Zelenskiy said the stepped-up cooperation would apply especially to weaponry and the construction of fighter jets.

Zelenskiy said Kyiv and Ankara share the same view on threats in the Black Sea region and the response to those threats.

Zelenskiy, who visited troops in the Donbas region two days ago, said he had briefed Erdogan on the situation in detail.

Major movements of Russian armed forces toward or near Ukraine's borders and into Ukraine's Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula have been captured in photographs, video, and other data, fueling concerns that Moscow may be preparing to send forces into eastern Ukraine.

The Kremlin has rejected Western calls to pull back its troops, denying they are a threat while adding that military movements within Russia are an internal sovereign issue.

Washington has called Moscow's military buildup "destabilizing," and the White House has expressed concern about the recent troop movements.


Let it be remembered that Ukraine initiated the military buildup and has been shelling civilian areas in Donbass for months.




U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken consulted the German and French foreign ministers on April 9 about the need for Russia to cease its military buildup in the occupied Crimean Peninsula and near Ukraine's eastern borders.






Russia seized Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in March 2014, sending in troops and staging a referendum denounced as illegitimate by at least 100 countries.

Since then, overwhelming evidence suggests Russia has continued to lend diplomatic and military aid to armed separatists fighting in the Donbas region.

The conflict has killed more than 13,000 people and displaced more than 1 million since April 2014.