- Iran is revamping the Natanz Nuclear facility.
- The nuclear plant was damaged following a sabotage attack earlier this year.
- Iran is looking for a renaissance of the Iran nuclear deal.
Satellite images showing increased activity at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility have emerged as the nation faces rising criticism about its nuclear program, particularly from the United States and Israel. The photos from Planet Labs, a San Francisco-based imaging firm, show that a new road leading to the facility has also been built.
The latest development is in line with the recent announcement by Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.
He recently proclaimed that the nation would be embarking on a renovation project that will place the Natanz nuclear plant at the heart of the mountains for security reasons.
The Natanz facility suffered a suspected sabotage attack earlier this year, and so the nation is keen to add more security measures to safeguard the new installation. The blast caused significant damage to the facility.
Analysts forecasted that the sabotage attempt would significantly slow down uranium enrichment processing. This is after reports that a couple of advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges were destroyed.
At the time, local investigations indicated that state actors launched a cyberattack to compromise the facility. Tehran promised to retaliate against the perpetrators.
The IAEA had Been Informed About the Latest Project
Rafael Grossi, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has said that his organization had been informed about the latest Natanz project. According to Grossi, the satellite images just confirm a recent notification by Iran. The IAEA exec has said the revamp is still in its early stages.
According to Jeffrey Lewis an analyst at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, there is definitely some excavation going on:
“That road also goes into the mountains, so it may be the fact that they’re digging some kind of structure that’s going to be out in front and that there’s going to be a tunnel in the mountains. Or maybe that they’re just going to bury it there.”
Iran is looking to process large quantities of enriched uranium in response to the mounting sanctions by the United States. The move is part of a defiance campaign aimed at bringing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) parties back to the negotiation table.
The JCPOA treaty broke down after the US government, led by President Donald Trump, abandoned the deal. Representatives from Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, and China, however, met in September to discuss the way forward.
After walking away from the deal, the Trump administration enacted policies aimed at putting maximum economic pressure on the Iranian regime. It blocked Iranian oil and arms exports and cut the country away from the SWIFT international money transfer system.
There have been rising frustrations between Iran and the European Union due to the latter being too slow to shield Iranian firms from US sanctions.