Iranian civil defense commander Gholamreza Jalali said Monday the Islamic Republic's nuclear program has fallen prey to a computer virus called "Stars," Reuters reports.
The Stars virus is the second in the cyber war against Iran's bid for nuclear capability, following after the much-reported Stuxnet virus,
Jalalai said the introduction of the new virus is being investigated while admitting Stuxnet still posed a risk. "We should know that fighting the Stuxnet virus does not mean the threat has been completely tackled, because viruses have a certain life span and they might continue their activities in another way," Jalali said.
The revelation that Stuxnet is still hampering Iran's nuclear program runs counter to previous claims by Iranian officials that the destructive virus had been dealt with and buttresses Saudi concerns that Iran's intention to activate the Bushehr plant in May could lead to a 'second Fukushima.' Saudi concerns were based on reports attributed to a Russian engineer working at the site that metal shards were found in the coolant intakes for the reactor.
Iranian officials blamed Israel and the United States -- which believe Iran is seeking nuclear weapons -- for the Stuxnet virus, which some expert shave described as the first "guided cyber missile," aimed at Iran's atomic program.
"Stars," experts speculate, is the second.
"Fortunately," Jalali told Iran's press. "Our young experts have been able to discover this virus and the Stars virus is now in the laboratory for more investigations," Jalali was quoted as saying. He did not specify the target of Stars or its intended impact.
"The particular characteristics of the Stars virus have been discovered. The virus is congruous and harmonious with the [computer] system and in the initial phase it does minor damage and might be mistaken for some executive files of government organizations."
Bushehr is still not operational, having missed several start-up deadlines since the Stuxnet virus was introduced.