Stuxnet a bust?

A new report about the effect of the Stuxnet worm on the Iranian nuclear program is expected to downplay the effect of the computer attack at one of Iran's biggest nuclear facilities.

Video taken by cameras installed at the Nantanz processing plant shows that when the worm hit, there was a massive effort to contain the damage, and that it was largely successful.

Washington Post:


The ISIS report acknowledges that the worm may have undercut Iran's nuclear program in ways that cannot be easily quantified. While scientists were able to replace the broken centrifuge machines this time, Iran is thought to have finite supplies of certain kinds of high-tech metals needed to make the machines, ISIS concluded. In addition, the worm almost certainly exacted a psychological toll, as Iran's leaders discovered that their most sensitive nuclear facility had been penetrated by a computer worm whose designers possessed highly detailed knowledge of Natanz's centrifuges and how they are interconnected, said David Albright, a co-author of the report."If nothing else, it hit their confidence," said Albright, ISIS's president, "and it will make them feel more vulnerable in the future."

The creator of the Stuxnet computer malware remains unknown. Many computer security experts suspect that U.S. and Israeli intelligence operatives were behind the cyberattack, but government officials in the United States and Israel have acknowledged only that Iran's nuclear program appears to have suffered technical setbacks in recent months.

While Israel's government has previously said Iran was on the brink of acquiring a bomb, the country's outgoing intelligence chief estimated last month that the Islamic republic could not have a bomb before 2015. Other intelligence agencies have said Iran could obtain nuclear weapons in less than a year if it kicks out U.N. inspectors and launches a crash program. Iran denies it is seeking to build a nuclear weapon.

It should be noted that Nantanz is not vital to Iran's nuclear weapons program. It is so closely watched by the IAEA that they could never get away with enriching uranium beyond the 5% threshold for use in reactors. Nuclear weapons require enrichment to at least 85% - something that would be hard to miss if they tried it at Nantanz.

What about Iran's other facilities where there are no IAEA cameras - especially those that we suspect of harboring equipment but where no inspections have confirmed our suspicions? They may not have been so lucky elsewhere.

Any slow down in Iran's drive to possess nuclear weapons is well worth the effort. The total effect of the worm on that process is unknown, but Israel seems to think it bought them some time.

It is still a remarkable technological achievement.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky



A new report about the effect of the Stuxnet worm on the Iranian nuclear program is expected to downplay the effect of the computer attack at one of Iran's biggest nuclear facilities.

Video taken by cameras installed at the Nantanz processing plant shows that when the worm hit, there was a massive effort to contain the damage, and that it was largely successful.

Washington Post:


The ISIS report acknowledges that the worm may have undercut Iran's nuclear program in ways that cannot be easily quantified. While scientists were able to replace the broken centrifuge machines this time, Iran is thought to have finite supplies of certain kinds of high-tech metals needed to make the machines, ISIS concluded. In addition, the worm almost certainly exacted a psychological toll, as Iran's leaders discovered that their most sensitive nuclear facility had been penetrated by a computer worm whose designers possessed highly detailed knowledge of Natanz's centrifuges and how they are interconnected, said David Albright, a co-author of the report.

"If nothing else, it hit their confidence," said Albright, ISIS's president, "and it will make them feel more vulnerable in the future."

The creator of the Stuxnet computer malware remains unknown. Many computer security experts suspect that U.S. and Israeli intelligence operatives were behind the cyberattack, but government officials in the United States and Israel have acknowledged only that Iran's nuclear program appears to have suffered technical setbacks in recent months.

While Israel's government has previously said Iran was on the brink of acquiring a bomb, the country's outgoing intelligence chief estimated last month that the Islamic republic could not have a bomb before 2015. Other intelligence agencies have said Iran could obtain nuclear weapons in less than a year if it kicks out U.N. inspectors and launches a crash program. Iran denies it is seeking to build a nuclear weapon.

It should be noted that Nantanz is not vital to Iran's nuclear weapons program. It is so closely watched by the IAEA that they could never get away with enriching uranium beyond the 5% threshold for use in reactors. Nuclear weapons require enrichment to at least 85% - something that would be hard to miss if they tried it at Nantanz.

What about Iran's other facilities where there are no IAEA cameras - especially those that we suspect of harboring equipment but where no inspections have confirmed our suspicions? They may not have been so lucky elsewhere.

Any slow down in Iran's drive to possess nuclear weapons is well worth the effort. The total effect of the worm on that process is unknown, but Israel seems to think it bought them some time.

It is still a remarkable technological achievement.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky



RECENT VIDEOS