Iran has rejected western media claims that it temporarily halted uranium enrichment due to technical problems and asserted it had successfully fought off a serious cyber attack on its industrial and personal computers.
Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation Ali Akbar Salehi described as “lies” media reports on Monday that said technical difficulties temporarily paralysed thousands of centrifuges used for the enrichment of uranium.
Reuters, quoting a diplomat close to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), had said U.N inspectors found on November 16 that centrifuges engaged in low level uranium enrichment at the Natanz facility were not being fed uranium hexafluoride gas.
However, about a week later, Iran informed the U.N. agency that 28 cascades -- each normally containing 164 centrifuges -- had resumed enrichment.
Mr. Salehi said Iran's “enemies” had for the last year-and-a-half failed to infect Iranian industrial and personal computers with malicious malware. Iran had earlier acknowledged that its industrial computers had been targeted by the Stuxnet virus, which attacks Siemens supervisory control software used for managing water supplies, oil rigs, and power plants. “They angrily disclosed the issue [failed Stuxnet breakout] over the past two-three months when they did not obtain their goals. This shows that Iranian scientists and engineers are pressing ahead with complete vigilance,” Iran's state-run Press TV quoted Mr. Salehi as saying.
Meanwhile, the United States has slammed Iran for not cooperating with the IAEA, after the agency published a new report which observed that Tehran has not halted uranium enrichment, as mandated by the United Nations Security Council. Iran has also refused to sign the Additional Protocol, which would permit U.N. monitors to carry out impromptu inspections of its suspect facilities.
But, in a spirited response, Iran's representative at the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh said it was significant that the nine-page report issued by IAEA head Yukiya Amano observed that “all the Iranian nuclear activities, including enrichment, have been under the supervision of the agency [IAEA], and hasn't been diverted to nuclear weapons production, and it is completely peaceful.” He added that the demand that Iran should suspend enrichment had become “obsolete”, because “all nuclear activities are accounted for and there is no diversion [of nuclear material] to military purposes”.
Regarding the Additional Protocol, Mr. Soltanieh said that for two-and-a-half years, Iran had voluntarily abided by the Additional Protocol. However, it could not extend this compliance in view of the decision taken by the world powers to transfer Iran's nuclear file from the IAEA to the Security Council.