Iran said to ask Interpol to arrest Natanz ‘sabotage’ suspect

International police body refuses to confirm or deny request for help in finding Reza Karimi, who does not appear on ‘red notice’ list despite mockup displayed on Iranian state TV

A photo aired by Iranian state television shows Reza Karimi in an Interpol-style 'wanted' poster. Tehran says Karimi was behind the sabotage at Natanz on April 11 that it has blamed on Israel (vide screenshot)
A photo aired by Iranian state television shows Reza Karimi in an Interpol-style 'wanted' poster. Tehran says Karimi was behind the sabotage at Natanz on April 11 that it has blamed on Israel (vide screenshot)

Iran has asked Interpol to help arrest a suspect in an attack on its Natanz nuclear facility which it blames on Israel, a local newspaper reported Sunday.

National television published a photo and identified the man as 43-year-old Reza Karimi, saying the intelligence ministry established his role in last week’s “sabotage” at Natanz.

The broadcaster said the suspect had “fled the country before the incident” and that “legal procedures to arrest and return him to the country are currently underway.”

The report also aired what appeared to be an Interpol “red notice” seeking his arrest. A red notice is a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender or similar legal action, according to Interpol’s website.

Neither state TV nor other media provided further details on the suspect, and the intelligence ministry has not issued an official statement.

A passport-style photo published by Iranian state television shows Reza Karimi, 43, whom Tehran says was behind the sabotage at Natanz on April 11 that it has blamed on Israel (video screenshot)

The ultra-conservative Kayhan daily reported in its Sunday edition that “intelligence and judicial authorities” are engaged in the process.

It added that “after his identity was established, necessary measures were taken through Interpol to arrest and return” the suspect.

Kayhan did not specify what form of Interpol assistance had been requested.

Contacted by AFP in Lyon, Interpol did not confirm or deny such a request being filed by Iran.

“Interpol does not… comment on specific cases or individuals except in special circumstances and with the approval of the member country concerned,” it said.

As of Sunday noon, Interpol’s public “red notice” list online returned no results for Reza Karimi.

Last year, following an earlier blast at the Natanz site that was also attributed to Israel, Iran named another Karimi as a suspect — Ershad Karimi, a contractor at the nuclear facility who owns a company, MEHR, that supplies precision measuring equipment.

According to Israel’s Channel 13, Ershad Karimi was never found.

The April 11 attack at Natanz was initially described only as a blackout in the electrical grid feeding aboveground workshops and underground enrichment halls, but Iranian officials later began calling it an attack.

On Monday, an Iranian official acknowledged that the blast took out the plant’s main electrical power system and its backup. “From a technical standpoint, the enemy’s plan was rather beautiful,” Fereydoon Abbasi Davani, the head of the Iranian parliament’s energy committee, told Iranian state television.

“They thought about this and used their experts and planned the explosion so both the central power and the emergency power cable would be damaged.”

Natanz, in Iran’s central Isfahan province, hosts the country’s main uranium enrichment facility. (AP)

The New York Times reported that the blast was caused by a bomb that was smuggled into the plant and then detonated remotely. The report cited an unnamed intelligence official, without specifying whether they were American or Israeli. The official also noted that the blast took out Natanz’s primary electrical system as well as its backup.

The Iranian foreign ministry accused Israel of an act of “nuclear terrorism” and vowed revenge.

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied involvement, but public radio reports said it was a sabotage operation by the Mossad spy agency, citing unnamed intelligence sources.

The New York Times, quoting unnamed US and Israeli intelligence officials, also said there had been “an Israeli role” in the attack.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh, last week indirectly accused Israel of attempting to scuttle talks underway in Vienna aimed at reviving a landmark nuclear agreement.

The talks are focused on bringing the US back into the accord after former US president Donald Trump withdrew from it in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Tehran, and to bring Iran back into compliance with key nuclear commitments it suspended in response to the sanctions.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed