Feeds

Iran nuclear plant shutdown due to 'leak'

Mystery delay unrelated to Stuxnet infection, claims minister

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Delays in bringing Iran's nuclear plant online at Bushehr are due to a "small leak" and nothing to do with the infamous Stuxnet worm, according to the country's energy minister.

Bushehr was due to begin producing electricity in November, following the transfer of fuel to the core in September, but power production is being delayed until "early 2011" following a leak in a storage pool, according to Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's vice president and political boss of its nuclear programme, AP reports. Salehi did not specify whether radioactive material was involved in the leak, much less whether any plant personnel were exposed to danger.

"During a washing process prior to loading the actual nuclear fuel, a small leak was observed in a pool next to the reactor and was fixed," Salehi said, Iran's IRNA news agency reports. "This leak delayed activities for a few days."

Plant officials have previously admitted that the Stuxnet worm, a sophisticated strain of malware capable of sabotaging industrial plant control systems, had infected the laptops of an unspecified number of workers.

This admitted infection has nothing to do with the months-long delay at Bushehr, according to Salehi. Iran's deputy industry minister, Mohsen Hatam, added: "All (infected) platforms have been scanned, cleaned and sent back to their respective industries."

Stuxnet, which was first widely identified in July, is capable of reinfecting supposedly disinfected systems, so Hatam's assurances that the country has its malware problem under control cuts little ice. The worm is capable of spreading from infected USB sticks or across unsecured networks. Once inside the system it uses the default passwords to command the software. Infections have been recorded in India and Indonesia as well as Iran and Russia.

Last week Iran intelligence officials said the country had arrested an unspecified number of "nuclear spies" over the Stuxnet infection. These arrests remain unconfirmed by independent sources.

One favoured (though disputed) theory is that the worm was developed in Israel and introduced by Russian sub-contractors who worked at Bushehr. Stuxnet has backdoor components and attempts to connect to two (now disconnected) servers. The malware uses two stolen digital certificates and no less than four zero-day Windows flaws.

The sophistication of the worm has provoked widespread speculation that the malware was developed by an intelligence agency and targeted at Iran, the country where infection was first detected. Israel has emerged as the obvious prime suspect in this malfeasance.

Iran claims its nuclear programme is solely for civilian purposes such at electricity generation and scientific research. However other countries, led by the US and Israel, fear the country wants to use the plant to enrich uranium and make nuclear weapons. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
NOT OK GOOGLE: Android images can conceal code
It's been fixed, but hordes won't have applied the upgrade
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.