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Iran Reveals More About What It Calls Foreign Sabotage
Iran said Tuesday that it had amassed new evidence of attempts by saboteurs to attack Iranian nuclear, defense, industrial and telecommunications installations, including the use of computer virus-infected American, French and German equipment.
An Intelligence Ministry announcement, carried by the semiofficial Fars News Agency, did not further specify the intended targets or the type of sabotage equipment it said had been found. But the announcement represented a new level of detail from Iran about the scope of sabotage attacks, and it appeared to reflect growing Iranian concern about security threats carried out clandestinely.
Some equipment in question was even put on display, Fars said, calling it the first such exhibition “to show American, French and German equipment used for sabotage acts against Iran’s vital and important facilities.”
Fars said the exhibition was meant to showcase the Intelligence Ministry’s achievements in “discovering and defusing the plots hatched by the enemies.” It did not provide photographs or explain where the exhibition was held.
The announcement came against a backdrop of growing international tensions over Iran’s disputed nuclear program, with American-led naval war games conducted in the Persian Gulf and a successive array of announcements by Iran of new achievements in rockets and other weaponry meant to show that Iran is prepared for an armed conflict.
In words intended partly to reassure Israel, which considers Iran’s nuclear program a major threat, President Obama told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday that he would not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran and that time was running out to resolve the matter peacefully.
Iranian leaders, who have repeatedly asserted that their nuclear program is peaceful, have also been warning that Israel would face military obliteration if it pre-emptively attacked Iranian nuclear sites. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, who is also visiting the General Assembly this week, said Monday, “We are fully prepared to defend ourselves.”
The accounts of sabotage came three days after the top Iranian lawmaker for national security and foreign policy, Aladdin Boroujerdi, said Iranian security experts had discovered explosives planted inside equipment bought from Siemens, the German technology company. Mr. Boroujerdi was quoted in Iran’s state-run news media as saying the explosives, which were defused, had been intended to detonate after installation and derail Iran’s enrichment of uranium.
Siemens said its nuclear division had done no business with Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, suggesting that the Iranians, who are prohibited from buying nuclear equipment under United Nations sanctions, bought the booby-trapped equipment from third parties.
Last week, the top Iranian atomic energy official, Fereydoon Abbasi, said the power supply for Iran’s two main uranium enrichment sites had been sabotaged with explosives. He also complained that the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear monitor of the United Nations, had been infiltrated by “terrorists and saboteurs,” suggesting that the agency had fed information to Iran’s adversaries.
Iran has rejected repeated agency requests for unfettered access to all sites where inspectors suspect that experimentation with using uranium for weapons has taken place.
Mr. Abbasi, a nuclear scientist, narrowly escaped assassination in Tehran two years ago. Five other Iranian nuclear scientists and researchers have been killed in the past few years, and the Intelligence Ministry has blamed operatives from Israel, the United States and Britain.
Iran has also been the target of cyberattacks, most notably a computer worm known as Stuxnet, which disrupted the centrifuges that enrich uranium in 2010. In May, Iran said its computer experts had stopped an Israeli virus known as Flame.
Iranian news media have lately seized on evidence of nuclear sabotage regardless of its source. On Sunday, Iran’s state-run Press TV Web site, quoting The Sunday Times of London quoting unidentified Western intelligence sources, said that the Revolutionary Guards had discovered a self-destructing electronic eavesdropping device disguised as a rock outside Fordow, its subterranean enrichment plant near Qum.