Iran arrests four on suspicion of nuclear sabotage

 

Iran's nuclear chief said on Sunday that authorities arrested four workers in an alleged sabotage plot involving one of the country's nuclear facilities, hinting that authorities were looking at suspected international links such as Israel.

The reports quoting Ali Akbar Salehi did not give further details or name any specific countries in possible connection to the investigation. But his reference to probes into "hostile" nations suggested Iran could point the finger at Israel — which is already blamed by Iran for a series of targeted slayings of nuclear scientists over the past four years.

Iran also has claimed possible US links to past attacks on its nuclear program, but Salehi said the latest alleged plot could be tied to those opposing Tehran's recent groundbreaking outreach to Washington. On Saturday, Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wanted to "blackmail the world" and block potential progress in nuclear talks with the US and other world powers.

Salehi, who was quoted by the semiofficial Fars news agency, gave no further details on the alleged plot or the possible target, but said authorities had monitored the suspects and made the arrests at "exactly the right time." Later, Salehi told state TV that authorities had foiled "several cases" of similar sabotage attempts in the past "two or three weeks." He also did not elaborate.

"Hostile countries are not interested in finding way out of current situation and they are trying to block agreement on the nuclear case though acts of sabotage," Fars quoted Salehi as saying.

In Iranian official terminology, hostile countries are usually a reference to Israel and the United States. But the attempts at historic diplomacy suggested with Washington suggested the term was aimed at Israel.

Talks over Iran's nuclear program are scheduled to resume next week in Geneva amid hopes of new proposals on all sides after the exchanges between Iran and the US during the recent UN General Assembly gathering, which included a phone conversation between President Barack Obama and Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani. It was the highest-level dialogue between the countries since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran is urging the US to ease sanctions in exchange for nuclear concession. But Iran has not publicly specified what measures it could take to satisfy Western concerns that its nuclear work could one day produce atomic weapons. Iran insists it only seeks reactors for energy and medical use such as cancer treatment.

Salehi also noted that Iran has upgraded its protective measures against cyberattacks that have "continued" over the past years.

In 2010, the powerful Stuxnet virus targeted Iran's nuclear facilities and other industrial sites, and Tehran has acknowledged the malicious software affected a limited number of centrifuges — a key component in nuclear fuel production. But Iran has said its scientists discovered and neutralized the malware before it could cause serious damage.

Iran periodically announces the arrest of suspects charged with espionage or attempts to sabotage its nuclear facilities. But it normally does not release further details on their identities or fate.

In August, Iran said it arrested a man on charges of spying for Israel. The suspect allegedly passed intelligence to a security officer at the Israeli embassy in Thailand. Last week, Israel announced the arrest of an Iranian-Belgian citizen on suspicion of spying for Iran.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests