A recently announced hacking of the UN nuclear agency's computer servers was not the first time an attempt had been made to break into the organisation's computer system, the head of the agency said today.
Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that a few months ago a group broke into the agency's computer system and stole personal information of scientists working on peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
In response to questions at a Council on Foreign Relations event in Washington, Amano repeated what he said last week after the hacking was revealed: no sensitive information about the IAEA's nuclear inspections had been stolen.
The IAEA has shut down the server that had been hacked and is continuing an investigation, Amano said. But he also said it wasn't the first attempt to break into the system.
''If you ask if this is the only case? I would say there have been some other tries but we are doing our best to protect our system,'' Amano said.
The hackers - a group using an Iranian-sounding name - have posted scores of email addresses of experts who have been working with the UN agency on a website, and have urged the IAEA to investigate Israel's nuclear activity.
Israel, which has an undeclared nuclear arsenal, and the United States accuse Iran of seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capability. Tehran denies such ambitions.
Amano would not say if he believed Iran was behind the attacks on the IAEA, whose missions include preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and which is investigating Iran's disputed nuclear activities.
''The group... they have what looks like an Iranian name. But that does not mean that the origin is Iran,'' he said.
There has been an increase in suspected Iranian cyber attacks this year, coinciding with a deepening standoff with the West over Tehran's nuclear program.