Debkafile’s intelligence sources report information reaching the West in the past week that Iran has put to death a number of atomic scientists and technicians suspected of helping plant the Stuxnet virus in its nuclear program. The admission by Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization, on Friday, Oct. 8 – the frankest yet by any Iranian official – that Western espionage had successfully penetrated its nuclear program is seen as bearing out those reports.
It also attests to the damaging effect the malworm has had on the program: the Bushehr reactor has faced one delay after another since it was inaugurated in August and other nuclear plants are functioning only partially since the virus first surfaced last July. Salehi said the West had stepped up efforts “to establish contact with experts” at his agency and “lure them with promises of further study and better jobs abroad.” Some nuclear personnel, he said, had access to information about Iran’s plans for “foreign purchases and commercial affairs.”
He thus accused Iranian personnel of making it possible for Western agencies to use items purchased overseas as Stuxnet carriers. But, the Iranian nuclear chief contended, Iran had countered their efforts and security had been stepped up so as to make it “almost impossible” for secrets to leak out. “The issue of spies existed in the past, but is diminishing day by day,” he said