An Iranian newspaper affiliated with the country’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei published an editorial Saturday calling on the government to strike Israel’s nuclear facility in Dimona in response to the recent attack on the Islamic Republic’s Natanz nuclear site, which was widely attributed to Israel.
Writing in the ultraconservative Kahyan daily, prominent regional analyst Saadullah Zarai lamented the response seen thus far from the Iranian government following the April 11 sabotage operation at Natanz.
Iran has since begun enriching a small amount of uranium up to 60 percent purity — its highest level ever, and a short step from weapons-grade — in open breach of the 2015 nuclear deal.
“Unfortunately, by announcing that Iran will install more advanced centrifuges at the damaged facility and that it will increase uranium enrichment to 60 percent, the president [Hassan Rouhani] has effectively announced that Iran will not respond proportionally to the attack at all,” Zarai wrote.
“It is the clear position of this author that the appropriate response to the Natanz incident — based on [the concept of] an eye for an eye and based on the policy of creating a security deterrence — should be action against the [Israeli] nuclear facility in Dimona. This is because no other action is at the same level as the Natanz incident,” he added.
Israel has never acknowledged that it has a nuclear arsenal, instead maintaining a policy of “nuclear ambiguity” while vowing that it will not be the first to use nuclear weapons in the Middle East. The Dimona nuclear research facility is officially called the Shimon Peres Negev Nuclear Research Center.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif seized on major construction at the Dimona site earlier this year as his country prepared to limit access by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency amid tensions with the West over its collapsing 2015 nuclear deal. “Israel is expanding Dimona, the region’s only nuclear bomb factory,” he wrote.
“Any talk about concern about Iran’s nuclear program is absolute nonsense,” Zarif told Iranian state television’s English-language arm Press TV. “Let’s be clear on that: It’s hypocrisy.”
Also on Saturday, Iran state television named a suspect, Riza Karimi, in the Natanz attack and said he had fled the country.
In Vienna, negotiations between Iran and world powers continued over the deal Saturday, with some progress reported.
A senior Iranian official acknowledged Tuesday that the blast at the Natanz nuclear facility, which Tehran blames on Israel, destroyed or damaged thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium.