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Stuxnet Sux (for Iran)

New details emerge about computer worm

by
Marc Tracy
January 18, 2011
The nuclear facility at Bushehr, in August.(IIPA via Getty Images)
The nuclear facility at Bushehr, in August.(IIPA via Getty Images)

In case you missed it, the New York Times reported this weekend that Stuxnet, the computer worm that has apparently wreaked great havoc on Iran’s nuclear program, was the result of a years-long Israeli-American collaboration, and works in ways that resemble the methods of the casino-robbers in Ocean’s 11. (For a skeptical analysis of the article, see here.) Over the weekend, a Norwegian paper quoted diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks that reported that, from Iran’s perspective “a race exists between the bomb and financial collapse.” The Los Angeles Times reports that Stuxnet heralds a seachange, “a tipping point,” says one expert, “that will usher in a cyber-defense revolution in military affairs”(Richard Clarke is also interviewed). Michael Tanji wrote much the same thing last October in Tablet Magazine. Your other required reading is Yossi Melman on Stuxnet, also from October, and Melman last week, on departing Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who presumably played a major role in the Stuxnet success.

“I believe that Stuxnet is an Israeli-made worm with the help of the CIA and Germany’s BND,” Melman writes in, “unlike with bombing the Syrian reactor, which was 100 percent Israeli intelligence-gathering, Israeli independent decision-making, and above all Israeli execution. By the way,” he adds, “I was the first one who wrote that Stuxnet was aimed to hit Natanz. At the time others wrote that it was directed at Bushehr” (Bushehr being the site of the recognized power plant, Natanz being the site of the reported enrichment facility). True!

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.

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