FILED - Satellite image from July 21, 2004 of the Natanz nuclear facility in Iran. Iran's nuclear authorities have reported an overnight
FILED - Satellite image from July 21, 2004 of the Natanz nuclear facility in Iran. Iran's nuclear authorities have reported an overnight "incident" at the country's Natanz nuclear site. Photo: DigitalGlobe/dpa

Iran’s intelligence service is said to have identified one of the masterminds behind an act of sabotage at the Natanz nuclear facility a week ago.

However, the person identified as 43-year-old Reza K had already left the country before the attack took place, the intelligence service said in a press statement, according to state media on Sunday.

The search for the man is reportedly already under way. No further details have been released, including how the man was able to get into the country’s main nuclear facility.

The leadership in Tehran blames its arch-enemy Israel for the April 11 attack and calls it an act of terrorism. At the same time, it accuses Israel of trying to sabotage the ongoing nuclear talks in Vienna. Israel has not commented on the incident.

New Iranian centrifuges for uranium enrichment are produced in Natanz. Since Friday, uranium can be enriched to a purity of 60 per cent, according to nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi.

Critics say there is no non-military reason for such a high level of enrichment. They warn that Iran has thus taken another step towards a nuclear weapon.

The facility has been the site of several incidents or attacks attributed to Israel, which wants to prevent Iran from becoming armed with nuclear weapons.

The Vienna nuclear talks are aimed at the US and Iran returning to the 2015 agreement that aimed to limit Iran’s nuclear weapons programme, in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.

According to commentators, Iran wants to strengthen its negotiating position with higher uranium enrichment. The goal is to get US sanctions lifted before the parliamentary elections in June.

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