The control systems of Iran’s Bushehr nuclear plant have been penetrated by a computer worm unleashed last year, according to a foreign intelligence report that warns of a possible Chernobyl-like disaster once the site becomes fully operational.
Russia’s envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, also has raised the specter of the 1986 reactor explosion in Ukraine, but suggested last week that the danger had passed.
The report, drawn up by a nation closely monitoring Iran’s nuclear program and obtained by The Associated Press, said such conclusions were premature and based on the “casual assessment” of Russian and Iranian scientists at Bushehr. With control systems disabled by the virus, the reactor would have the force of a “small nuclear bomb,” it said.
“The minimum possible damage would be a meltdown of the reactor,” it says. “However, external damage and massive environmental destruction could also occur … similar to the Chernobyl disaster.”
The virus, known as Stuxnet, has the ability to send centrifuges spinning out of control and temporarily crippled Iran’s uranium-enrichment program. Some computer experts believe Stuxnet was the work of Israel or the United States, two nations convinced that Iran wants to turn nuclear fuel into weapons-grade uranium.