Iranian intelligence thwarted a plot to damage the Islamic Republic’s heavy water reactor in Arak, the semi-official Fars news agency reported over the weekend, without giving details.
“Some cases of acts of sabotage in the industrial sector have been identified and foiled in the last few months through cooperation between the intelligence ministry and the security bodies,” an official with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Asqar Zare’an, told Fars.
Zare’an’s title is deputy chief for nuclear protection and security.
The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, said officials had monitored and then arrested a “number of saboteurs” before they could carry out their plan, according to the Mehr news agency on Saturday. “Four of these individuals were caught red-handed and their interrogations are ongoing,” he said. He did not identify which nuclear site they were planning to damage or when they were arrested.
Last October, at least four people were arrested in Iran for trying to sabotage a nuclear site, an Iranian official said.
Israel, widely believed to be the region's only nuclear-armed state, sees Iran's atomic work as a military threat and has said it will attack Iran's nuclear sites if it does not end its program.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made some strong statements during his speech to the UN General Assembly
last year in New York, raising tensions between Israel and Iran.
“Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone,” Netanyahu said.
Iran has long maintained that its nuclear activities are purely peaceful, though Netanyahu has said this is a ploy to avoid economic sanctions that have had a devastating affect on Iran's economy.
In return, Iran accuses Israel and the West of being behind the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists and of trying to damage its program in other ways, such as by cyber attacks.
"Faith-phobic, Islamophobic, Shia-phobic and Iran-phobic discourses" has reached "dangerous proportions," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told the UN in his own speech, calling it "xenophobia."