Iran Confirms Stuxnet Worm Halted Centrifuges

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Iran's president has confirmed for the first time that a computer worm affected centrifuges in the country's uranium enrichment program.

Iran has previously denied the Stuxnet worm, which experts say is calibrated to destroy centrifuges, had caused any damage, saying they uncovered it before it could have any effect.

But President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said it "managed to create problems for a limited number of our centrifuges." Speaking to a press conference Monday, he said the problems were resolved.

Earlier in November, U.N. inspectors found Iran's enrichment program temporarily shut down, according to a recent report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog. The extent and cause of the shutdown were not known, but speculation fell on Stuxnet.

The finding was contained in a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency for the U.N. Security Council and the 35 IAEA board member nations.

Diplomats who spoke to the Associated Press that week said they did not know why the thousands of centrifuges stopped turning out material that Iran says it needs to fuel a future network of nuclear reactors.

Speculation has focused on the Stuxnet worm, which cyber experts have identified as configured to damage centrifuges.

Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi initially said details about the virus became known only after Iran's "enemies failed to achieve their goals."

Salehi said in October that a months-long delay in starting up Iran's first nuclear power plant was the result of a small leak, not the computer worm.

Iran's refusal to stop enriching and accept offers of nuclear fuel from abroad has caused concern because enriched uranium can also arm nuclear warheads. Tehran is under four sets of U.N. Security Council sanctions for refusing to stop enriching.

Iran denies any nuclear weapons ambitions and says its program is only for peaceful purposes like power generation and medical research.

The malicious computer code, designed to take over industrial sites like power plants, has also emerged in India, Indonesia and the U.S. But it has spread the most in Iran.

U.S. on Alert Over Stuxnet Virus Threat

Though it infected several personal computers of workers at the Bushehr plant, Iran says the facility's main systems were not affected. Still, that was the first public sign to emerge that the code has hit computers linked to Iran's nuclear program.
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