Israel has claimed the plant is used by Iran as part of its program to develop nuclear weapons
Iranian nuclear facility. © Ramin Talaie / Corbis / Getty Images
Iranian state media announced on Monday that Tehran has foiled an attempted sabotage plot linked to Israel at a key underground nuclear plant, detaining several suspected spies.
The IRNA news agency said suspected members of an Israeli-linked spy network “planned on sabotaging the Fordo facility and were arrested by the intelligence services of the Revolutionary Guards.” The state media outlet did not reveal the names of the suspect or how many were detained.
Fordo is an underground uranium enrichment facility that is based roughly 180 kilometers (112 miles) south of Tehran. The Israeli government has previously accused Iran of using the plant as part of its plan to develop nuclear weapons, something that Tehran denies.
The alleged Israeli intelligence officials had attempted “to approach” a Fordo employee after having recruited one of his neighbors in a bid to gain inside information about the advanced centrifuges used at the facility. The detained individuals were reportedly paid “in the form of cash and digital currency, so that no trace of it remains.”
The suspected spies allegedly used the “guise of a Hong Kong company” during their communication with the Fordo employee but their efforts were foiled by the “nuclear command” of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the “intelligence services command.”
IRNA claimed that this was the “first time that the existence of the nuclear command has been officially revealed and confirmed,” quoting an Iranian defense official as stating that it was formed in May-June 2021 “after several acts of sabotage.”
The announcement that Israel-linked individuals have been detained on accusations of attempted sabotage comes as Iran and Western powers are expected to reach an agreement on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.
The deal had originally fallen apart in 2018 after then-US President Donald Trump withdrew America from the agreement and slapped sanctions on Tehran. In response, Iran rolled back its commitments under the deal, including resuming activity at the Fordo facility, which it had previously agreed to shut.