The personal computers of staff at Iran’s first nuclear power station has been infected by a complex computer worm, the official IRNA news agency reported. (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk)
But according to project manager Mahmoud Jafari, the operating system at the Bushehr plant, due to go online in a few weeks, has not been harmed.
The Stuxnet is believed to be the first-known worm designed to target major infrastructure facilities.
Some Western experts say that because of its complexity, it could only have been created by a “nation state”.
It is the first sign that Stuxnet, which targets systems made by the German company Siemens, has reached equipment linked to Iran’s nuclear programme.
Stuxnet is tailored to target weaknesses in Siemens systems used to manage water supplies, oil rigs, power plants and other utilities.
Mr Jafari also said that the fact that Stuxnet has now been detected on the personal computers of staff will have no impact on plans to make the Bushehr plant operational next month.
A team is currently trying to remove the malicious software, or malware, from several affected computers, he told IRNA.
“An electronic war has been launched against Iran”, Mahmoud Liayi, head of the information technology council at the ministry of industries, told the state-run Iran Daily newspaper.
Last week, a working group of experts met in order to discuss ways of fighting the worm, which Mr Liayi said has now infected about 30,000 IP addresses in Iran.
Even though Iran says its programme is only aimed at peaceful energy use, the West fears Iran’s ultimate goal is to build nuclear weapons.