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December 15, 2010

JP: 'Stuxnet virus set back Iran's nuclear program by 2 years'

Topics: Iran, Middle East News and Perspectives, Political News and commentaries

Like Phineas says over at Sister Toldjah, it's better than a Tom Clancy novel because it's real, it works, and it set the Iranian nuclear program back two whole years.

The Jerusalem Post: Top German computer consultant tells 'Post' virus was as effective as military strike, a huge success; expert speculates IDF creator of virus.

The Stuxnet virus, which has attacked Iran's nuclear facilities and which Israel is suspected of creating, has set back the Islamic Republic's nuclear program by two years, a top German computer consultant who was one of the first experts to analyze the program's code told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

"It will take two years for Iran to get back on track," Langer said in a telephone interview from his office in Hamburg, Germany. "This was nearly as effective as a military strike, but even better since there are no fatalities and no full-blown war. From a military perspective, this was a huge success."

Langer spoke to the Post amid news reports that the virus was still infecting Iran's computer systems at its main uranium enrichment facility at Natanz and its reactor at Bushehr.

Last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nation's nuclear watchdog, said that Iran had suspended work at its nuclear-field production facilities, likely a result of the Stuxnet virus.

According to Langer, Iran's best move would be to throw out all of the computers that have been infected by the worm, which he said was the most "advanced and aggressive malware in history." But, he said, even once all of the computers were thrown out, Iran would have to ensure that computers used by outside contractors were also clean of Stuxnet.

"It is extremely difficult to clean up installations from Stuxnet, and we know that Iran is no good in IT [information technology] security, and they are just beginning to learn what this all means," he said. "Just to get their systems running again they have to get rid of the virus, and this will take time, and then they need to replace the equipment, and they have to rebuild the centrifuges at Natanz and possibly buy a new turbine for Bushehr."

Widespread speculation has named Israel's Military Intelligence Unit 8200, known for its advanced Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) capabilities, as the possible creator of the software, as well as the United States.

Although the article speculates that a unit of the Israel Defence Forces is behind Stuxnet, there's at least one slightly less sexy argument than the Israeli-U.S. explanation ... China:
China may actually be responsible for the cyber attack that disabled Iranian nuclear facilities, according to Jeffrey Carr.

Writing in Forbes, Carr proposes an alternate scenario to that assumed by most: that the U.S. or Israel conducted the attack in an effort to stall Iran's nuclear program.

Carr's contention is that several companies associated with the Stuxnet worm have operations in China, China has an intimate understanding of the centrifuges built in Iran (made in China), and China doesn't want Iran to get nuclear weapons.

Whatever the case, there's one thing that appears to be certain. Stuxnet did its job.

Meanwhile, my money is on the Israeli connection.

Posted by Richard at December 15, 2010 1:31 PM

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