The Stuxnet worm which provoked serious damages in Iranian enrichment facilities in 2009, increased the country's nuclear potential, according to a report published in the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) journal.

According to the study, the threat uncovered vulnerabilities that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. Besides, Iranian nuclear production went up in the year after Stuxnet was allegedly discovered.

In addition, the research adds that during the period when the West thought Iran's nuclear program was under attack, the country intensified its activities secretly and began to enrich uranium to higher levels. Besides, the number of machines that operate in the Natanz facility increased, according to data from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“Iran's uranium-enrichment capacity increased and, consequently, so did its nuclear-weapons potential,” explained  researcher Ivanka Barzashka.

"Stuxnet was of net benefit to Iran if, indeed, its government wants to build a bomb or increase its nuclear-weapons potential," she added. "The malware has made the Iranians more cautious about protecting their nuclear facilities."

Malcolm Rifkind, former Foreign Secretary of the UK, criticised the study and said that the only reason why the Iranians reduced their nuclear ambitions was because of bilateral talks between them and the US.  

However, according to the vice president of the IAEA, Herman Nackaerts, no progress was made in talks between the Agency and Iran regarding the nuclear program .