A general view of the Arak heavy-water projec
A general view of the Arak heavy-water projecReuters

Iran on Monday provided more information regarding the failed attempt to sabotage the nuclear reactor in Arak, saying that the attackers tampered with the pumps at the facility.

On Saturday, Asghar Zarean, deputy chief for nuclear protection and security at the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, announced that authorities identified and neutralized a sabotage attempt at the Arak heavy water nuclear reactor. He did not provide details at the time.

On Monday, reported Reuters based on the official IRNA news agency, Zarean said the incident was one of several such attacks foiled over the past few months.

He did not name the targets of the other alleged attacks or who might have been behind them.

"Intelligence inspections of the nuclear facilities indicated that some pumps ... of Arak's IR-40 project had been mechanically manipulated in an effort to disrupt the routine work of the power plant," Zarean said, according to Reuters.

He gave no further details. A report by the UN nuclear watchdog in November last year said a number of major components had yet to be installed at the plant, including reactor cooling pumps. It was not immediately clear whether Zarean was referring to another type of pump.

In the past, Iran has blamed Israel, the United States and even other Western countries for sabotaging its nuclear program.

In recent years, Iran has detained a number of alleged U.S. or Israeli agents accused of spying on, or attempting to sabotage, its nuclear program.

Several Iranian nuclear engineers have also been killed in what Tehran says were assassinations by foreign intelligence services.

In 2010, a cyber-attack reportedly carried by the U.S. and Israel, hit Iran's nuclear facilities. The Stuxnet virus was tailored specifically to target uranium enrichment facilities.

The Arak heavy water plant has been a sticking point in negotiations between Iran and the West. Satellite images from almost a year ago showed that the plant was operational, raising fears that it is being used to produce plutonium for a nuclear bomb.

Wendy Sherman, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, stated last December, "Quite frankly, we're not quite sure what you need a 40-megawatt heavy water reactor, which is what Arak is, for any civilian peaceful purpose."