TEHRAN, Iran - Telegraphing Iran’s negotiating stance entering key talks about its nuclear program in Turkey later this week, Tehran’s chief negotiator is charging that the United States was involved in a cyberattack that he said disrupted a peaceful program aimed at creating nuclear energy, not weapons.
In an exclusive interview with Richard Engel, chief foreign correspondent for NBC News, this week in Tehran, Saed Jalilli said that Iran’s investigation has determined that the U.S. was involved in the cyberattack using the Stuxnet computer worm, a virus which targeted centrifuges used to enrich uranium as part of Iran’s nuclear program.
“I have witnessed some documents that show … their satisfaction in that (the U.S. was involved),” he said.
Jalilli indicated, however, that the cyberattack was not as successful as some media accounts have portrayed it.
“Those who have done that could see now that they were not successful in that and we are following our success,” he said.
Jalilli also fingered Iran’s enemies in deadly attacks against scientists working on Iran’s nuclear program, saying that the killings in Iran followed identification of the scientists in U.N. resolutions involving Iran’s nuclear program.
“We believe that there is a meaningful relation between the U.N. Security Council resolution and these kind of activities,” he said of the attacks, which have killed at least two Iranian scientists.
“It is a big question for the international community, and a big kind of question in that the name of the scientists of a country mentioned in the United Nations council resolution and then following that the terrorists assassinated them.”
Despite the tensions over Iran’s nuclear program, Jalilli said he is optimistic that progress can be made at the second round of international talks, which begin Saturday in Istanbul.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran is for talk around and on common points … which are accepted by both sides,” he said. “… Therefore we are ready to talk for whatever is important from folks."
The cyberattack and the killings are likely to be discussed by Iran at talks in Istanbul with six major powers over its disputed nuclear activities. The talks follow U.N., U.S., and European Union sanctions imposed last year that target oil and gas sectors vital to the Iranian economy.
In the wide-ranging interview, Jalilli also discussed these aspects of the international row over Iran’s nuclear program: