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Iran accuses Siemens of nuclear programme sabotage plot

24 September 2012

On September 22 Iran accused Germany's Siemens of implanting tiny explosives inside equipment the Islamic Republic purchased for its disputed nuclear programme, a charge the technology giant has denied. Prominent lawmaker Alaeddin Boroujerdi said Iranian security experts discovered the explosives and removed them before detonation.

Iranian Prime Minister Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visiting the Fordow plant's centrifuges
Iranian Prime Minister Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visiting the Fordow plant's centrifuges

Boroujerdi said Iranian authorities believe the booby-trapped equipment was sold to derail its uranium enrichment efforts.

"The equipment was supposed to explode after being put to work, in order to dismantle all our systems," he said. "But the wisdom of our experts thwarted the enemy conspiracy."

Mr Boroujerdi said the explosives were planted at a Siemens factory and the company had to take responsibility.

Siemens denied the charge and said its nuclear division has had no business with Iran since the 1979 revolution.

"Siemens rejects the allegations and stresses that we have no business ties to the Iranian nuclear programme," Alexander Machowetz, a spokesman for the Munich-based company, said in a statement.

Iran is under UN sanctions and the MP did not say where the equipment had come from.

Tehran is engaged in a standoff with Western countries which suspect it is building a nuclear bomb.

The BBC said the Iranian accusation raised some intriguing questions. They include:
*Has the Iranian MP simply got it wrong?
*Is Iran buying Siemens equipment through a third party?
*Is there something more underhand going on, with sabotaged equipment being sold with the secret approval of Western intelligence agencies?

In June 2010, a virus - nicknamed Stuxnet - was found to have infected computer systems at Iranian nuclear plants. It, too, was connected to a Siemens product but the company denied all knowledge.

Unconfirmed reports linked the virus to a government agency, perhaps in the US or Israel.

Meanwhile on September 23, the Sunday Times, citing western intelligence sources, reported that a monitoring device disguised as a rock exploded when it was disturbed by Iranian troops near the Fordow underground nuclear enrichment plant.

Iranian experts who examined the scene of the explosion found the remains of a device capable of intercepting data from computers at the plant, where uranium is being enriched in centrifuges.

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