The incident at Natanz was not an «accident», and the damage was worse than what Iran had initially presented to the public, a source confirmed to the Israel's newspaper.
Western sources said the facility was hit by a cyberattack.
The Natanz underground facility, located in the desert in the central province of Isfahan, is the centrepiece of Iran's uranium enrichment programme and is monitored by inspectors of the IAEA, the UN nuclear watchdog.
The attack against Natanz took place just a day after Iran began injecting uranium hexafluoride gas into advanced IR-6 and IR-5 centrifuges at Natanz and was revealed as US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was visiting Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:
- The struggle against Iran and its proxies and the Iranian armament efforts is a huge mission
- The situation that exists today will not necessarily be the situation that will exist tomorrow
Malek Shariati, spokesman for the Iranian Parliament’s Energy Committee, said on Twitter:
- This incident, which occurred on the anniversary of the National Day of Nuclear Technology and during Iran's efforts to force the West to lift sanctions, is highly suspected of being sabotage and infiltration
- The parliament is following the matter and will make announcement after the conclusion
In 2010, the Stuxnet virus attacked the facility in a joint operation with the US, destroying more than 1,000 centrifuges.
Last year, a fire broke out at the Natanz underground facility, which the authorities alleged was the result of cyber sabotage.
In local news agency reports, Iranian officials suggested the facility may have come under attack, speculating the plant may have been targeted as the country discusses a revival of the Iran nuclear deal with its Western signatories.
The Associated Press said the Natanz incident complicates efforts by the U.S. to reenter the JCPOA.