Computer worm didn’t harm nuke program: Iran

Iran’s nuclear chief says a malicious computer worm known as Stuxnet has not harmed the country’s atomic program.

By (Agencies)

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Published: Tue 23 Nov 2010, 2:55 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:18 AM

Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi says details about the virus became known only after Iran’s “enemies failed to achieve their goals.”

Salehi’s remarks on Tuesday came a day after diplomats told The Associated Press in Vienna that Iran’s nuclear program has suffered a recent setback, with major technical problems forcing the temporary shutdown of thousands of centrifuges enriching uranium.

Iran has earlier confirmed that Stuxnet infected several personal laptops belonging to employees at the Bushehr nuclear power plant but that plant systems were not affected.

Technical problems have hit Iran atom work: Western diplomats

Iran has been experiencing technical problems with equipment in its uranium enrichment programme but it is unclear to what extent the Stuxnet computer worm may be to blame, Western diplomats said on Tuesday.

One senior diplomat said it was his understanding Iran had had to temporarily shut down some of its enrichment centrifuges due to power fluctuations, but he did not have details on how many or for how long.

Security experts have said the release of Stuxnet could have been a state-backed attack possibly by Israel or another foe of Iran, on Iran’s nuclear programme, which Tehran says is designed to produce electricity but which Western leaders suspect is a disguised effort to develop nuclear bombs.

“I don’t think you can necessarily blame Stuxnet entirely. There could be some other issues but clearly they have been having some real problems,” the diplomat told Reuters.

Iran’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was not immediately available for comment.

Any delays in Iran’s enrichment campaign could buy more time for efforts to find a diplomatic solution to its stand-off with six world powers over the nature of Iran’s nuclear activities.

Iran denies any military aims but it has tentatively agreed to meet with a representative of the powers early next month, for the first time in over a year.

“Clearly there have been some technical difficulties they have been having with regard to centrifugues,” the Western diplomat said. “They have been having some significant problems in terms of power fluctuations with the centrifuges ... They have had to shut some down.”

Another Western diplomat also said Iran had been suffering problems with its centrifuges, without giving details.

Security experts last week said new research showed definitively that Stuxnet was tailored to target the kind of equipment used in uranium enrichment, deepening suspicions its aim was to sabotage the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities.

Centrifuges are finely calibrated cylindrical devices that spin at supersonic speed to increase the fissile element in uranium so that it can serve as fuel for nuclear power plants or, if refined to a much higher degree, for atomic bombs.

The Islamic state’s P-1 centrifuges, adapted from a smuggled 1970s European design, have been plagued by breakdowns since a rapid expansion of enrichment in 2007-08. In September, an IAEA report said the number of producing centrifuges had fallen to 3,772 from 3,936 a few months earlier. It did not give a reason.

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