Iran’s key Natanz nuclear site suffered a blackout due to a cyberattack April 12. Senior Israeli officials hinted at the Mossad intelligence agency’s responsibility for this attack. The New York Times cited U.S. and Israeli officials confirming Israel’s role. Iran called the attack an act of “nuclear terrorism.”
This sabotage of the facility’s power grid is a gross violation of Iran’s internationally recognized sovereign right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Iran faces the constant threat of military attacks and other violent provocations from the United States, Israel and other hostile countries in the region. However, the country’s government has consistently maintained that it has no intention of developing nuclear weapons.
Pressure on Iran on the pretext of its nuclear program was reinvigorated after former President Donald Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in May 2018 — popularly known as the Iran nuclear deal. Despite Iran’s verified compliance with the JCPOA’s stipulations, the United States subsequently reinstated all sanctions that were lifted by the accord and threatened to sanction any government or entity that conducted business with Iran. This blockade continued even in the midst of a global pandemic.
It is important to note that the incident comes just after Iranian officials met with the remaining signatories of the JCPOA in Vienna last week to revive the agreement. Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif outlined Iran’s proposed path forward. It involves the United States’ return to full compliance first, followed by Iran’s reciprocation after rapid verification, and the removal of all Trump-era sanctions without exceptions. Significant progress was made and two commissions were formed to work toward a solution.
The meeting in Vienna to resuscitate the JCPOA was heavily criticized by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who vowed earlier this year to stop Iran’s development of nuclear technology despite Israel’s own unacknowledged arsenal of nuclear weapons. As of 2020, Israel is believed to have 90 nuclear warheads and “to have produced enough plutonium for 100-200 weapons.”
Last November, Israel is widely believed to have assassinated top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadh. More recently, Israel amped up hostilities after the Biden administration expressed an interest in rejoining the JCPOA, and attacked two Iranian ships in the last two weeks.
This latest attack on Iran illustrates the violent and imperial nature of forces that want to continue to suffocate the people of Iran with devastating sanctions. It also points to a contradiction between the Biden administration, which views the JCPOA as a tool to shift the U.S. war machine’s attention towards China, and its junior partner Israel, which opposes anything short of unmitigated hostility toward the country. The cyberattack was all the more brazen considering it took place on the same day that U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was visiting Israel. No matter what the source of the aggression is, the people of the United States gain nothing from the cruel economic war being waged on the people of Iran.