Iran's nuclear chief has denied claims that technical problems have hurt Iran's efforts to enrich uranium and has stressed that the Stuxnet computer worm did not harm the country's atomic program.
Ali Akbar Salehi said Tuesday Iran's enemies "failed to achieve their goal" of
using the computer virus to disrupt Iran's nuclear endeavors.
The statement seems to be in response to remarks from officials close to the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency who said technical problems are slowing down Iran's nuclear program.
The officials said Monday Tehran has removed hundreds of its centrifuges used to enrich uranium at its nuclear facility in Nantaz. They say thousands of the approximately 8,500 centrifuges in the facility are running below their capacity or are shut down.
Nuclear experts say the Stuxnet virus may have disrupted the Iranian centrifuges and caused them to spin out of control.
Cyber security experts have described Stuxnet as a "super weapon" that appears to be specifically designed to target installations such as power plants. They say nearly 60 percent of the computers discovered to be infected with the virus are in Iran.
The news of technical difficulties comes as Iran is tentatively scheduled to hold talks with six world powers on December 5. However, the two sides have not agreed on a venue or on which nuclear program issues might be discussed.
Many Western countries believe Iran aims to use its uranium enrichment program to build atomic weapons, a charge Tehran denies.
The United Nations imposed sanctions on Iran for its refusal to stop enriching uranium. Other world bodies have imposed additional penalties. Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.
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