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President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad admitted Monday that "several" uranium enrichment centrifuges were damaged by "software installed in electronic equipment," amid speculation Iran's nuclear activities had come under cyberattack.
"They were able to create problems on a limited basis for some of our centrifuges by software installed in electronic equipment," Ahmadinejad told reporters when asked whether Iran's nuclear programme had been affected.
"Our specialists stopped that and they will not be able to do it again," he added without elaborating on the software thought to have been
Computer security firm Symantec said this month that computer worm Stuxnet might have been designed to disrupt the motors that power gas centrifuges used to enrich uranium.
Iranian officials have insisted that the Islamic republic's nuclear programme has not been harmed by Stuxnet, and denied there was any halt in the enrichment work.
Symantec says Stuxnet worm aimed to disrupt electrical motor controls, like those used by gas centrifuges to enrich uranium; Stuxnet, considered by many security researchers to be the most sophisticated malware ever, targeted Windows PCs that managed large-scale industrial-control systems in manufacturing and utility companies
Researchers have uncovered new clues that the Stuxnet worm may have been created to sabotage Iranian attempts to turn uranium into atomic bomb-grade fuel.
According to Eric Chien, one of three Symantec researchers who have dug into Stuxnet, the worm targets industrial systems that control very high speed electrical motors, such as those used to spin gas centrifuges, one of the ways uranium can be enriched into fissionable material.
Prof. Majid Shahriari, who died when his car was attacked in North Tehran Monday, Nov. 29, headed the team Iran established for combating the Stuxnet virus rampaging through its nuclear and military networks. His wife was injured. The scientist's death deals a major blow to Iran's herculean efforts to purge its nuclear and military control systems of the destructive worm since it went on the offensive six months ago. Only this month, Stuxnet shut down nuclear enrichment at Natanz for six days from Nov. 16-22 and curtailed an important air defense exercise.