Iranian troops uncovered a monitoring device disguised as a rock near the underground nuclear enrichment plant at Fordo, according to western intelligence sources.
The Sunday Times quoted the sources as saying that the fake rock exploded when Revolutionary Guards who were on a patrol last month to check terminals connecting data and telephone links at Fordo tried to move it.
- Khamenei: Time for new world order
- 'War with Israel will eventually happen'
- Iran debuts new air defense system
According to the British newspaper, Iranian experts who examined the scene of the blast found the remains of a device capable of intercepting data from computers at the nuclear plant, where uranium is being enriched in centrifuges.
The Sunday Times said it is feared a significant source of intelligence may have been lost for the West, which believes Iran could be preparing to use enriched uranium to make a nuclear bomb.
The report said the Iranians initially kept news of the explosion secret. But last week Fereydoun Abbasi, the country’s vice president and head of its nuclear energy agency, revealed that power lines between Qom and the Fordo plant had been blown up on August 17.
Early reports suggested the explosion was meant to cut power supplies to the plant and damage the centrifuges. However, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who visited Fordo the day after the explosion, made no mention of any damage or disruption in their report.
The Sunday Times said intercepting the computer and phone lines from the plant would have enabled western analysts to estimate the output from the centrifuges.
Last week Abbasi alleged that "terrorists and saboteurs" may have infiltrated the IAEA in order to undermine Iran's nuclear program, but in another interview he admitted that Tehran "occasionally" gave the UN nuclear agency "false information" to protect Iran's nuclear facilities.
On Saturday Prominent lawmaker Alaeddin Boroujerdi accused Germany's Siemens of implanting tiny explosives inside equipment the Islamic Republic purchased for its disputed nuclear program, a charge the technology giant denied.
He said Iranian security experts discovered the explosives and removed them before detonation, adding that authorities believe the booby-trapped equipment was sold to derail uranium enrichment efforts.