A bomb planted by an insider and not a suspected Israeli cyberattack may have caused an explosion in a facility housing centrifuges inside the Iranian nuclear site of Natanz last week.
"The majority of the Revolutionary Guards believe that someone carried a bomb to the building," a member of the Revolutionary Guard was quoted as saying by the New York Times.
However, the mode of delivery is yet to be confirmed. Investigators have also considered the possibilities of the use of cruise missiles or drones.
“It’s possible that this incident will slow down the development and expansion of advanced centrifuges. There were advanced equipment and precision measurement devices at this site that was either destroyed or damaged," Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, told the official Islamic Republic News Agency on Sunday.
Soon after the explosion, Kamalvandi had said the cause of the explosion had been identified and that it would be revealed at the "right time." He added that this incident might speed up Iran’s plan to move all sensitive facilities underground.
Under the 2015 nuclear deal with the United States, China, Russia and European powers, Iran agreed to give up much of its enriched uranium and to limit the level of enrichment and the number of centrifuges it operated. But the recent withdrawal by the USA and the imposition of crippling sanctions have made Iran boost its Enrichment programs far beyond the limits imposed by the government.
The bomb theory gains credence from the nature of explosion- a blast with impact spreading outwards.
According to Kamalvandi, the facility was a centrifugal assembly plant and not a fuel processing facility where centrifuges would be spinning at high speed with gasses under high pressure. Hence it would be easier to penetrate given the movement of people.
The U.S. special envoy on Iran, Brian Hook, had said during his visit to Israel a few days ago that Washington does not exclude the use of military force or any measure if necessary to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Previously, a suspected Israel-U.S. plot had planted the Stuxnet virus in Iran’s nuclear facility’s computers that control centrifuges causing them to stop working. In addition, several Iranian nuclear scientists had been killed in mysterious circumstances- with the needle of suspicion pointing at Israel.