Is Israel behind Iran nuclear reactor’s emergency shutdown?

Iran offers no reason as nuclear plant is disconnected from national power grid.

By World Israel News Staff

Iran shut down its only nuclear power plant on Sunday, citing an unspecified “technical defect” at the Bushehr reactor.

Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said the reactor, which produces 1,000 megawatts of electricity, would be disconnected from the national power grid. An official from the state electric energy company said the shutdown would last “for three to four days” and urged people to minimize power consumption in the meantime.

It’s the first time Iran has reported an emergency shutdown of any kind at Bushehr.

The report came as top diplomats said that further progress had been made at talks in Vienna on Sunday, where the U.S. and Iran are discussing a return to the JCPOA nuclear agreement.

Iran’s lack of explanation for the shutdown fueled speculation that Bushehr was sabotaged by Israel. Over the past year, Iranian power stations, a petrochemical plant, a gas storage complex, a port terminal and other facilities have been beset by mysterious explosions and shutdowns widely assumed to be the result of Israeli sabotage and hacking.

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Iran blamed most of those incidents on human error or flawed safety procedures while Israeli officials refused to comment.

However, in April, Iran blamed Israel for an explosion at its underground Natanz nuclear facility that damaged thousands of centrifuges. Before stepping down from his post in June, former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen hinted at Israel’s involvement in the Natanz incident.

Iran’s wave of unexplained blasts and power failures began shortly after hackers, who were traced back to Iran, unsuccessfully tried to raise the chlorine levels in an Israeli water treatment plant. Although the attack was discovered and foiled, Israelis were shaken to learn that thousands of people could have been poisoned. Had certain failsafe measures triggered a shutdown, thousands more Israelis would have been left without water.

The Bushehr reactor is located on the coast of the Persian Gulf near active fault lines and is built to withstand powerful earthquakes. The facility has been periodically shaken by tremblors, though no seismic activity has been reported recently. A 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck the Bushehr province in April, but Iranian officials said no damage was caused.

Associated Press contributed to this report.