IRAN has vowed to "take revenge" on Israel after an attack on an underground nuclear site.
Officials have blamed Israel for the act of "nuclear terrorism" at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant on Sunday, which decimated their advanced new nuclear technology.
New advanced centrifuges, which enrich the uranium, had just been activated there before an audacious cyber attack struck the weapons site.
The Iranian Foreign Minister has now issued the stark warning confirming they seek retribution for the disruptive incident.
"The Zionists want to take revenge because of our progress in the way to lift sanctions," Mohammad Javad Zarif said, according to state media.
"They have publicly said that they will not allow this. But we will take our revenge from the Zionists."
Initially reported as a power failure, it appears the apparent Mossad cyber operation sparked a substantial internal explosion that has destroyed the independent power system the centrifuges rely on, US intelligence told the New York Times.
And the bad news keeps on coming – with experts suggesting it could take more than NINE months before enrichment can resume at the sight.
The 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 International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog.
Iran nuke chief Salehi said: "While condemning this despicable move, Iran emphasises the need for the international community and the International Atomic Energy Agency to deal with this nuclear terrorism and reserves the right to take action against the perpetrators."
Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said "of course" Israel was behind the "crime against humanity" at a news conference in Tehran.
He said, "This incident, fortunately, did not cause any damage to human lives or the environment.
"However, it could have been a catastrophe. This is a crime against humanity and carrying out such actions is in line with the essence of the Zionist regime."
He revealed that only the least efficient "IR1" centrifuges were damaged in the offensive, and that they will be replaced with advanced ones.
Israel has become increasingly vocal in recent days regarding concerns over Iran's nuclear capabilities, but have not officially commented on the incident.
It came a day after Tehran, which has denied it seeks to make atomic weaponary, launched new advanced enrichment centrifuges at Natanz.
Asked about what had occurred, an IAEA spokesman said by email: "We are aware of the media reports. We have no comment at this stage."
Kan Radio, citing the intelligence sources, said the damage at Natanz was more extensive than had been reported in Iran.
At a ceremony with Israeli military and intelligence chiefs, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made no direct reference to Natanz.
But he said: "The fight against Iran's nuclearisation … is a massive task".
Tehran says its nuke programme is purely for peaceful purposes.
It comes as US President Joe Biden desperately tries to revive the 2015 nuclear deal that was deserted by Donald Trump three years ago.
Biden is keen to reconvene the landmark legislation that restricted Iran's nuclear developments in return for the suspension of harsh penalties and sanctions that were obliterating the country's economy.
Trump reimposed sanctions that had been lifted on the Islamic Republic under the deal and brought in many more – which saw Iran has gradually breached many restrictions imposed by the accord in response.
Under the terms of the nuclear deal, Iran can only use IR1 centrifuges to produce limited amounts of uranium that is enriched up to 3.67% concentration – which is used to create fuel for commercial nuclear power plants.
When enriched to 90% or more, uranium can be used to produce nuclear weapons – and in defiance of Trump, Iran has been enriching to a concentration of 20%, as well as stockpiling these materials.
The two nations laid out tough stances at indirect talks in Vienna last week on how to bring both back into full compliance with the deal.
Salehi said: "The action taken against the Natanz site shows the failure of the opposition to Iran's industrial and political progress to prevent the significant development of Iran's nuclear industry.
"To thwart the goals of those who commanded this terrorist act … Iran will continue to improve its nuclear technology on the one hand and to lift oppressive US sanctions on the other hand."
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