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Stuxnet expert nuke-boffin killing: Iran claims arrests

Sticky-bomb assassins took out worm cleanup chief

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Iranian authorities claim to have arrested suspects over the murder of a nuclear scientist in the country last Monday.

Motorcylists placed bombs on the windows of cars as the targets of the attack were driving to work, in two identical but separate attacks last Monday. Each device was detonated seconds later leaving little chance of escape.

One blast killed Majid Shahriari, a professor at the nuclear engineering faculty at the Tehran University, and severely wounded his wife. The second bomb injured nuclear physicist Fereidoun Abbasi, who was fortunate to escape with his life.

Shahriari, a quantum physicist by trade, reportedly headed the team Iran has established to eradicate the Stuxnet worm from industrial facilities involved in its controversial nuclear program.

Iranian Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi claimed that the country had made an unspecified number of arrests over the assassinations, which he blamed on Western intelligence agencies.

Details on the supposed arrests were notably vague; it may be that the announcement, and follow-up comment by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad along the same lines, were intended primarily for domestic consumption.

Stuxnet is a sophisticated worm that selectively targets industrial control systems from Siemens, allowing compromised systems to be reprogrammed and therefore sabotaged. The Iranian president confirmed last week that the worm sabotaged uranium-enrichment centrifuges at the centre of the country's controversial nuclear program. ®

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