Yesterday, a major power failure occurred at the Islamic Republic’s main uranium-enrichment facility in the city of Natanz, causing considerable damage. While Jerusalem has not commented, credible reports have suggested that a Mossad cyberattack was behind the blackout. Moreover, both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the IDF chief of staff Aviv Kokhavi seem to have hinted in public statements that Israel was responsible. Lahav Harkov examines the reasons for, and possible consequence of, the incident:
On Friday, the U.S. and Iran continued indirect negotiations for their return to the [2015 nuclear] deal. Though some of the other parties to the Iran deal expressed optimism that an agreement can be reached, Iran maintained its stance that all post-2015 sanctions be removed before it takes any steps to return to compliance with the deal’s nuclear limitations. Soon after, a senior State Department official said that if Iran doesn’t budge, then the sides will reach an impasse.
The next day, Iran further breached the [2015 agreement] by launching advanced uranium-enrichment machines at the underground nuclear facility in Natanz. This seems like it was a gambit by Iran to have a longer list of items that it can scale back from in negotiations, while still ending up closer to a nuclear bomb than the [deal] originally allowed.
Then, less than a day later, there was a mysterious power outage in Natanz that derailed the whole thing. There are indications that the disruptions in Natanz were the result of a cyberattack, and—as always—all eyes are on Israel when these things happen. And Iran has yet to recover from recent “incidents,” such as a July 2020 explosion that set back its nuclear program.
Thus the attack took Natanz off the table, weakening the Islamic Republic’s negotiating position.