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Key Lawmaker: Blast In Iran's Enrichment Site Was Due To Security Breach

A satellite image showing a building at Natanz enrichment facility before (R) and after a July 2, 2020 incident. Courtesy: Iran International TV

A member of the Iranian Parliament's National Security Committee says the blast at Iran's main nuclear establishment in Natanz on July 2 was caused by a "security breach".

The Persian word Javad Karimi Qoddousi has used to describe the cause of the blast can also be translated into infiltration of security, which makes it slightly different.

He strictly rules out "a strike on the complex by an external object," the oblique jargon that means he believes no bombs or missiles have hit the building which is the main venue of uranium enrichment in Iran.

Karimi Qoddousi who spoke to the parliament's website, ICANA, on Wednesday July 22, said: "If it was from the outside, we should have seen shrapnel, but there are absolutely no remnants left on the site."

However, he did not elaborate further on the "security breach" or "infiltration."

Earlier, various analysts, politicians, disinformation operatives and conspiracy theorists had come up with hypothesis including an Israeli drone or missile attack, bombs planted by foreign agents, a cyberattack by Israel or the U.S., technical defect, accidental fire, and sabotage.

The latter was backed by an unverified email by a group named "Persian Cheetahs" or “Panthers” which was never heard of before or after the incident. The email claimed that a group of dissident security officers were behind the blast. The email was sent to a few staff members of only one media outlet in the United Kingdom. IT experts in the United States, the UK and Europe are said to be examining the email to track down the sender, but the outcome of the investigation is still not known to public.

The statement by the member of Iran's parliament is consistent with a July 5 New York Times report that quoted an IRGC commander without naming him as having said that a powerful bomb detonated inside the building had caused heavy damage.

The Natanz incident being the most notable in recent weeks is not the only mysterious event. More than a dozen important industrial and at least one military site near Tehran experienced suspicious explosions and fires. The government has dismissed them as accidents.

Karimi Qoddousi, is an MP for Mashad and a former IRGC (Basij militia) commander. During the past years, he has made outlandish remarks about the Iran's nuclear program and the nuclear agreement with world powers that has created controversies and at times enraged politicians such as Foreign Minister Javad Zarif or Nuclear Chief Ali Akbar Salehi while they were at the podium of the parliament (Majles).

He has recently visited the site in Natanz along with other MPs and has expressed concern over the building's "vulnerability." He said after the visit: "We are almost certain that no suspicious object has flown in and hit the building." He added: "It was more likely that explosives were planted in the machines in the West." However, Iran builds its own enrichment centrifuges and the West would hardly sell anything to Iran ready to be used in such a sensitive nuclear site.

Earlier, Iranian media had ruled out the possibility of an air strike or a cyber-attack as the cause of the blast in Natanz.

Hamshahri newspaper in Tehran wrote on July 7 that "the site is being constantly protected by machine guns and more powerful air defense systems such as the S-300 are stationed at sensitive places and near the borders, so an air strike on the site in Natanz is almost impossible."

Iran has still not officially declared the cause of the blast. The Supreme Council of National Security said one day after the incident that it knew the cause but would not declare it at the time being for security reasons.

Government Spokesman Ali Rabiei said on July 11 that the cause of the incident will be announced after experts complete their investigations.

According to the New York Times, the blast will delay Iran's nuclear program for up to another two years.