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Iran reports fire in nuclear plant

Iran’s nuclear programme is under particular scrutiny by the international community. Now the Iranian nuclear authority reports an incident at a plant in Natans where uranium is enriched. The details remain unclear. Only a damaged shed has been officially reported.

According to the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation (AEOI) there has been a fire at the Iranian nuclear plant in Natans. An industrial shed had been damaged, said AEOI spokesman Behrus Kamalwandi. He did not say exactly what happened. According to him, no one died in the incident and work at the plant was not affected.

A team of experts from the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency is investigating the cause of the fire. “There is no concern about the possibility of contamination because it was one of the halls that was inactive and under construction that was damaged and not the plant itself,” Kamalwandi said.

The underground facility in Natans, 220 kilometers southeast of the capital Tehran, is Iran’s most important site for uranium enrichment. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently demanded that the government in Tehran allow the inspection of suspicious nuclear sites. Israel sees its existence threatened by the Iranian nuclear and missile programme.

For years there has been an international dispute about how to deal with Iran and a long-negotiated nuclear agreement. In this agreement, the country had allowed stronger controls of its nuclear weapons activities and in return had received relief in international economic sanctions. The USA had withdrawn from the agreement in 2018 and announced new sanctions against Iran.

As a result, Tehran, too, has gradually ignored almost all provisions of the agreement – partly because the EU was unable to fulfil its promise to compensate for the economic consequences of the US sanctions. According to the IAEA, Iran’s stocks of enriched uranium are now almost eight times as high as allowed under the nuclear agreement.

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