West worried, Iran names Natanz suspect

Iran state television has named a suspect in the attack that damaged centrifuges at its Natanz nuclear site and says he has fled the country.

The report on Saturday named the suspect as Reza Karimi.

It showed a passport-style photograph of a man it identified as Karimi.

The report also aired what appeared to be an Interpol 'red notice' seeking the man's arrest.

The arrest notice was not immediately accessible on Interpol's public-facing database.

Interpol, based in Lyon, France, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The attack on April 11, for which Iran has blamed Israel, has inflamed a shadow war between the two nations.

Iran has begun enriching a small amount of uranium up to 60 per cent purity - its highest level ever - amid talks in Vienna aimed at saving its tattered nuclear deal with world powers.

The threat of higher enrichment has drawn criticism from the US and three European nations in the deal - France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

On Friday, European Union spokesman Peter Stano called Iran's decision "a very worrisome development".

"There is no credible explanation or civilian justification for such an action on the side of Iran," Stano said.

The narrow scope of the new enrichment provides Iran with a way to quickly de-escalate if it chooses, experts say, but time is narrowing.

An Iranian presidential election looms on the horizon as Tehran threatens to limit international inspections.

While 60 per cent is higher than any level at which Iran has previously enriched uranium, it is still lower than weapons-grade levels of 90 per cent.

Iran had previously been enriching up to 20 per cent, while the nuclear deal limited the country's enrichment capacity to 3.67 per cent.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which monitors Iran's nuclear program, did not respond to a request for comment.

Regional rival Israel plans to hold a meeting of its top security officials over the announcement.

"Israel is determined to defend itself against any attempt to harm its sovereignty or citizens, and will do whatever it takes to prevent this radical and anti-Semitic regime from acquiring nuclear weapons," Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said.

Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful, while an annual US intelligence report released on Tuesday maintained their longtime assessment that Iran is not currently trying to build a nuclear bomb.

The 2015 nuclear deal, from which former president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US in 2018, prevented Iran from stockpiling enough high-enriched uranium to be able to pursue a nuclear weapon, in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

US President Joe Biden said Tehran's latest step was contrary to the deal.

"We do not support and do not think it's at all helpful," he said.

"We are nonetheless pleased that Iran has agreed to continue to engage in indirect discussions with us on how we move forward and what is needed to get back (to the nuclear deal)."

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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