Stuxnet Targeted Bushehr, Iran’s Civilian Nuclear Reactor
The NY Times has published two stories in the past two days about the latest developments in the attempt by computer security specialists to penetrate the Stuxnet worm and its target. They have isolated the precise targets as being the centrifuge arrays and steam turbines at the Natanz and Bushehr plants. Now, more than ever these individuals are convinced that it was the work of Israel. There are no longer any other perpetrators being spoken of as likely suspects. Yesterday’s article even noted without providing a source that Israeli officials were seen to break out into wide smiles when asked if Israel could be credited for the job.
There is one element of today’s report (and here is yesterday’s) that especially troubles me:
The malicious program, known as Stuxnet, is designed to disable both Iranian centrifuges used to enrich uranium and steam turbines at the Bushehr nuclear power plant, which is scheduled to begin operation next year, said the engineer, Ralph Langner, an industrial control systems specialist based in Hamburg, Germany.
Natanz is the nuclear plant that is enriching uranium that could, possibly be turned into a weapon given certain conditions and circumstances. But no specialist I’ve ever talked to has said that Bushehr is anything other than a reactor enriching uranium for medical purposes. So why target a bona fide civilian nuclear facility? Either Israel believes that Bushehr could possible serve some role in Iran’s reputed military nuclear program; or it damaged Bushehr l’hachis (“for spite”) just because it could and because it wanted Iran to know this was all out war and Israel’s state hackers would make no distinctions, much like they refuse to do in Gaza or Lebanon during wartime.
While arguably (again, not my argument but one Israel advances) Israel might have grounds to sabotage Natanz, it appears to have no grounds whatsoever to sabotage Bushehr. Which makes Stuxnet a real act of state terror since it was deliberately designed to attack a non-military target & do so largely out of spite or hatred of Iran.
This is characteristic of Israeli intelligence operations which often fail to distinguish between the target & collateral damage. I know it’s naïve to think that such intelligence operations and decision-making might have a moral basis, but at least shouldn’t there be a distinction between a civilian nuclear facility and military one?
If we don’t make this distinction, then how can we argue if Al Qaeda targets a U.S. civilian reactor, as we’ve heard in the news they’ve contemplated, that this is a moral threshold that should not be crossed? How would Israel be any different than Al Qaeda in this regard? God forbid, let’s imagine an attack of some sort on Dimona. Can you imagine the cries of gevalt from Israel that the mullahs and imams of radical jihad had attacked a nuclear reactor? What’s the difference? One is a worm, another a bomb. They both achieve similar objectives except that one is more stealthy than the other. My point is that this is a very slippery slope that Israel is descending. And as ye sow so shall ye reap. Remember that.
- Iran Worm Can Deal Double Blow to Nuclear Program (nytimes.com)
34 thoughts on “Stuxnet Targeted Bushehr, Iran’s Civilian Nuclear Reactor – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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“They have isolated the precise targets as being the centrifuge arrays and steam turbines at the Natanz and Bushehr plants.”
Here we have yet again proof that it doesn’t matter how Israel fights it is always wrong on this blog.
We’ve heard time and time again here how Israel is planning or cajoling other countries to militarily attack Iran, and this is rightly condemned as aggressive and liable to backfire against Israel with immense damage to life on both sides.
Finally now Israel’s leaders heeded your warnings and found a stealthy, non-violent way of delaying Iran’s nuclear plans, but, nebech, they weren’t quite good enough and this virus couldn’t be contained just to the Natanz plant but infected also the Bushehr plant which has a similar operational system, and maybe is only for peaceful purposes.
Didn’t Israel finally do something right by delaying a threat recognised by most Western countries, and without killing or maiming a single soldier or civilian, and without leaving any nuclear fallout. Almost perfect!
I wish all conflicts would me managed as cleanly and as bloodless as this was!
‘I wish all conflicts would be managed as cleanly and as bloodless as this was!’
Your point is well taken and, for those of us more charitably disposed, Bushehr may, indeed, prove to have been a case of collateral rather than intentional damage. One day we may find out. But not today, I suspect.
However, this cyber-attack is just one more symptom, a new wrinkle in a conflict which seems to have no end in sight; nothing other than some bitter fight to the death, whether by nuclear or more conventional means. The prospects are not good, whichever way it goes.
We have seen so many symptoms, reactions to actions which are themselves reactions to some previous event; we get lost in this forest of activity and things vying for attention and remedy. There appears to be no central path to follow, no underlying momentum capable of carrying us forward towards some final determination.
There is a limit to how much negativity the average human being can absorb. Simply overload him with too many bad reports of a situation and he has this need to switch off, to take himself out of the loop. Without an expressly defined course of action, a feeling of powerlessness takes over and the matter ceases to be addressed in any coordinated fashion.
You are right; this conflict does require a cleaner and more bloodless form of management, much more so than present circumstances permit.
‘I wish all conflicts would be managed as cleanly and as bloodless as this was!’
It must be hoped that one day they can.
You seriously think infecting another country’s nuclear plants with a virus isn’t an act of aggression?
It is certainly an act of aggression; no doubt about that.
But centrifuges are replaceable, even whole nuclear power stations for that matter. Human beings, however, are unique and only good for one lifetime; very few refunds on damaged items. They can be rebuilt to some extent but the process is generally considered painful, often time-consuming and not always successful.
I guess if all this could confined to just centrifuges, turbines, reactors and the like, the conflict might have been managed better by machines rather than by people.
As I’ve been saying all along, why don’t we simply build a machine to take care of the matter for us?
It’s not as if the task would be especially difficult to do. After spending millennia conducting wars in the time-honoured fashion, here now, in the 21st century, some novelty, some improvement on so ancient a craft must be reckoned as long overdue.
Of course it’s aggression – but a bit like name-calling rather than actually going fisticuffs. (Ask a British friend if you don’t understand the idiom)
Oh please! It is very, very far from name calling. It is a destructive act of sabotage, and is arguably an act of war. Certainly Israel would treat it as an act of war were the shoe on the other foot.
You really don’t get it at all, do you?
Actually, this was not as non-violent as you believe. If the virus targeted Siemens civilian infrastructure, then nearly the entire globe is at risk from a runaway virus like this. Not to mention the barebones of which is now available to a host of other groups who aren’t state-backed (funded) pods of hackers.
Wow, you mean Bibi & Yvet read MY blog? I’m so impressed. Really, why would anyone care what I think in the gov’t? Don’t be a fool. Sabotaging a nation’s nuclear industry is not non violent since it could conceivably lead to the failure of major infrastructure systems within the country. Do me a favor, when you’re prepared to see Arabs do the same to Dimona, then we can talk.
In yr. dreams.
Yeah, right. So when can we expect that statement fr. you that it would be perfectly OK for Arab hackers to do the same to Dimona.
I find yr smugness repulsive. Come back here after the first time this happens to you in Israel & then we’ll see if you’re so smug.
Sure, it’s an act of aggression, no doubt about it.
And yet, the bottomline is – nobody got killed.
And if you ask me (which you don’t), I certainly prefer Dimona getting shut down by a virus to people getting killed. Sue me.
RE: “this is a very slippery slope that Israel is descending” – R.S.
AS A PRACTICAL MATTER: This is a very slippery slope that we are descending. No one is safe. NATO had better get that missile defense system up and running to protect Europe from the psychopaths in Israel.
” No one is safe. NATO had better get that missile defense system up and running to protect Europe from the psychopaths in Israel.”
Most of the time there are serious arguments put forward on this blog from all sides, and even though often the exchanges become personal they still try to address the issues.
But I really can’t believe that anyone who contributes to this blog can really believe that Israel has intentions to bomb Europe as some stategic idea. (“no one is safe” – really?)
You don’t do justice to the views on this blog by taking it down to this level, and do a disservice to intelligent argument.
Don’t be naive. Israel already has their nukes pointed at all of Europe under their Samson option that “if we go, we’re taking you all with us.” In addition, the US government points out every year the instances of Israel spying, stealing and engaging in acts of sabotage with the United States.
There is a reason that public opinion in Europe says that Israel is the most dangerous nation on the planet.
I think it’s safe to say that Israel has missiles targeted on any nation which might conceivably pose a threat to it including every Arab country & possibly Russia. As for Europe, not sure about that but nothing would surprise me about Israeli strategic doctrine.
I’m not terribly impressed about what you judge to be intellient argument. I’ve heard a lot worse here fr. the other side.
No one with any sense at all can believe that Iran has intentions to bomb Europe, or anyone else for that matter, and yet they are planning to throw billions of dollars into building a defense system against an attack by a country that has not attacked or invaded anyone for nearly three centuries. You have to hand it to the military-industrial complex along with its good pals the Zionist lobby for their skill in inducing mass hysteria over such a non-threat.
RE: “But I really can’t believe that anyone who contributes to this blog can really believe that Israel has intentions to bomb Europe as some stategic idea. (“no one is safe” – really?)” – shmuel
FROM WIKIPEDIA: Martin Levi van Creveld (born 5 March 1946) is an Israeli military historian and theorist…
…In a September 2003 interview in Elsevier (Dutch weekly) on Israel and the dangers it faces from Iran, the Palestinians and world opinion van Creveld stated:
We possess several hundred atomic warheads and rockets and can launch them at targets in all directions, perhaps even at Rome. Most European capitals are targets for our air force…. We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen before Israel goes under.…
SOURCE – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_van_Creveld
P.S. FOOTNOTE #4
4. ^ Quoted in The Observer Guardian, The War Game, a controversial view of the current crisis in the Middle East, 21 September 2003; the original interview appeared in the Dutch weekly magazine: Elsevier, 2002, no. 17, p. 52-53 (April 27th, 2002).
EXCERPT FROM THE OBSERVER GUARDIAN, 09/21/03:
SOURCE – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/sep/21/israelandthepalestinians.bookextracts
Someone had better safeguard USA, too, from psychopaths in Israel. RECALL that the aircraft that appeared to do all the damage on 9/11 (two airliners and a guided missile at Pentagon) were NOT SHOT DOWN. (Evidently. And no investigation of WHY they were not shot down was made public, if made at all.)
I do hope that poor, paper-tiger USA has the wherewithal to shoot down missiles from Israel and its submarines, because the day could come (who knows, the horse might speak) when the USA seriously attempts to put pressure on Israel (i.e. to withdraw all the settlers and dismantle the settlements and wall) and some nut in the Israeli military directorate might decide to fire a salvo at us.
I’ll complete the picture for those who haven’t understood it yet.
After Israel decimates NATO in Europe with massive air-strikes and missiles (like the missile on the Pentagon – where did you get that one from, Pabelmont?!), it turns to the USA and with a decimating nuclear attack that shows those Yanks who’s boss.
Then of course by sending a special virus to Chinese and Russian computers it sets their nuclear weapons at each other destroying each other totally.
Just to complete the world domination Israel then sets bacterial weapons on the remaining population of the world, with a special germ that only kills non-Jews leaving the world only with Jews.
Then we Jews start to argue amongst ourselves…
Pabelmont and Dickerson – do you actually read what you write here before sending? Or did I miss some hyperbole?
dickerson3870 had mentioned NATO defending against an Israeli psychopath. Perhaps he was joking. It would seem that unless Israel were willing to send out quite a few missiles with nukes, they would risk serious retaliation, and therefore not do it at all. If they were rational and not psycopathic (like the scorpion in the story, and like Israel so often at war with very, very weak opponents).
As to the aircraft that struck the Pentagon, what I’ve read says that no airplane parts were found (or perhaps ere displayed) and the hole in the wall, etc., was not consistent with an airplane strike but entirely consistent with a missile strike,
Some people, and I am one, like to read stuff that challenges official whitewashes; others believe it their patriotic duty to accept whatever the government tells them.
I would rarely believe a word that the Israeli military says and, on thios topic, few words that the USA military says.
[comment deleted for violation of comment rules]
I find such snark offensive. Not funny. Not remotely interesting. Knock it off.
By “snark” do you refer to my post marked 1:45 PM? I was, in the last paragraph trying to justify my writing about a 9/11 missile attack on the Pentagon, a statement that runs counter to USA party-line. Didn’t mean to offend anyone. Everyone has to decide whom and how much to believe, and people’s decision-mechanisms, like their prejudices and ideologies, are worth noting.
Sorry if any part of it seemed “snarky”.
I believe Richard was responding to “shmuel”.
” it wanted Iran to know this was all out war ”
they are marching in Tehran crying “death to Israel” but they needed this cyber attack to know this is an all out war.
” How would Israel be any different than Al Qaeda in this regard?…”
is Hiroshima and Nagasaki considered civilian targets? Dresden? present day FATA’s weddings in Pakistan?
” imams of radical jihad had attacked a nuclear reactor?”
when Nasralla joyed that his missiled get to bahada bahada Haifa he didn’t mean just Tel aviv, he meant also Dimona.
They let such cries loose all over the world against the U.S. Does that we prepare to annihilate them w. nuclear weapons? If we did that we’d have most of the nations in the world at DEFCON 4.
But he hasn’t been able to do anything about it. When he does, I presume you’ll acknowledge that Israel provoked the attack by doing the same to Iran.
Just for note, the chants aren’t coming from anyone but the rural and uneducated who have never seen an Israeli for the life of them. “Marg bar” is the equivalent of “Down with”. Essentially, they’re railing against Israeli policy and they know it, but that guy distorted it as something else. No populism in Iran stems from a glorified killing of Jews, hate to break it to you.
This is a decade or more long microcosm for Israeli policies towards Iran, which for the most part are enforced by Israel’s various proxies, like certain politicians bought by AIPAC, elements of the media, and Israeli elements, like the Hasbara brigade.
It started with the leak from MEK that Iran had hidden nuclear facilities in 2003. Then, in 2004, MEK suddenly presented laptop data showing that the Iranians weren’t just making a peaceful reactor like they claimed as it had designs for nuclear weapons. Iran denied it. Even German intelligence pointed to Mossad. http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=41416
(1) all the UNSC sanctions against Iran spearheaded by the US, France, and Britain (read: pro-Israeli lobbies within those countries) without any evidence that Iran is actually making nuclear weapons while its program is the most monitored ever (confirmed by the IAEA’s latest report http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Board/2010/gov2010-46.pdf), which, incidentally, hurt even the people in the diaspora (not to mention the poor Iranians back home) as my aunt was unable to send a niece a wedding dress for her wedding in Tehran from California;
(2) the lie that Ahmadinejad publicly claimed Iran wanted to attack Israel or Jews: http://edition.presstv.ir/detail/69866.html (actually refuted by Ahmadinejad himself);
(3) Hillary Clinton and other politicians calling the Persian Gulf the “Arabian Gulf” https://secure3.convio.net/niac/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=171 ;
…pretty much EVERYTHING that has to do with providing strong distaste for Iranians on the global palette really does come from an Israeli fabrication that Iran is threatening it. If Israel was not creating these lies, no pro-IPAC group in the echo chamber would be shooting the lies around and around. The purpose? I don’t think Israel ever intends to attack Iran. No country, as Tony Karon once put it best, “Biggie Smalls Says Israel Won’t Bomb Iran.” http://tonykaron.com/2008/06/29/israel-to-bomb-iran-dont-believe-the-hype/ Ehm, in his blog post he related that the rapper once told him that he wasn’t afraid of the hotheads who would beat their chests on the rooftops about wanting to kill him for months at a time, but the smooth, silent criminals.
This is all about retaining Israeli economic hegemony at any costs, stupidly calculated because it meant allowing Iran to draw the line in the sand, such that Israel and the US now like cowards not stepping over, although huffing and puffing a lot on the other side. It also allowed the Mullahs the first avenue to gain the moral high ground on a global level. After all, the Iranian nuclear program, according to the IAEA, is not only legal, but fully compliant with the NPT. Israel isn’t even a signatory, and there’s an outstanding 189 nation stern demand for Israel come clean about its suspected 300 nuke arsenal. At the same time, it diminished the cause of freedom for the Iranian people by allowing their oppressive government some keen foreign policy wins. Not only that, but in the case of the nuclear program, the Mullahs are telling the truth! It’s a bitter feeling trying to clarify people’s misinformation about Iran’s nuclear program (in an attempt to unfurl the buildup to Iranian war and all the negative collateral effects thereof discussed above) by agreeing with the Ayatallohs. :\ I can thank Israel for that.
Victim 8,000,001 of the Israeli War Machine
Aside from anything else, cyber attack on Bushehr reactor can potentially be a disaster. If the reactor malfunctions for any reason, the run-away reaction will create a catastrophe that can kill thousands for decades to come. Remember, a nuclear accident anywhere is a nuclear accident everywhere. Now, one might argue that the cyber attack had not targeted the core of the reactor. But, once one part of an extremely complex system malfunctions, there is no guarantee that the rest will not go out of control. Perhaps the Israelis meant to prevent the reactor from becoming fully operational, but even that is illegal and dangerous.
If what some people scream about Israel in Tehran is important, then I suggest to you guys to read what the right and ultra-right of Israel and the U.S. say about Arabs and Muslims. Just because some people are ranting in Tehran does not mean that a nation should go to war with Iran. If that were the deciding factor, the U.S. must bomb a nation every day!!
All this seems very reminiscent of a poker game played for some very high stakes. Quite possibly the highest there can ever be.
The trouble is that too many players here are using the same old technique. They feel compelled to keep on playing but can only do so by raising the ante more and more. At present, it’s the nuclear hand that being dealt. Not sure what comes after that. And, maybe, I don’t want to know.
The real problem, as I see it, is that there are no exit strategies from this game; no way of stopping it. It appears designed to be played out to the very end.
If such is the case, then the rule book may need to be modified to bring a halt to the proceedings, some period of intermission during which the whole group can relax, get up from the table, chat about the weather, make small talk and generally come to realise that there may be more to life than just being a player.
It would appear that we will need to introduce a new rule; I think we can still do that, can’t we?
Well, the players can’t be changed; the seating arrangements are fixed; the chips are all allocated and it’s always the same set of cards that’s used.
Has anyone ever thought about turning off the lighting? Poker, as I understand it, is not the easiest of games to play in total darkness; very difficult to assess your next move when that happens.
So, if the power shuts off, can that be the signal for everyone to take a break, climb down from wherever they’re at and give us all a well-earned breather until the lights come back on?
Incredibly, it could all be a matter of finding just the right fuse-box, throwing the switch and resetting it only when sufficient time has elapsed to risk resuming the game.
Maybe we’re not as powerless as the situation would seem to indicate. The possibility of control still is ours to exercise. But only if we choose to do so.
It should be obvious to anyone that this worm is a threat to the entire world with its espionage and domination capabilities. The internet should be “protected universal territory” and only those loyal to Israel see cyber warfare as a good thing with total disregard for future world-wide consequences because everyone is at risk.
“In 2007, the United States government suffered an “an espionage Pearl Harbor” in which an “unknown foreign power…broke into all of the high tech agencies, all of the military agencies, and downloaded terabytes of information.”
“United States Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III had the Pentagon release a document, which reflected a “malicious code” on a USB flash drive spread undetected on both classified and unclassified Pentagon systems, establishing a digital beachhead,…
[USB FLASH DRIVE? Stuxnet was delivered through a USB stick.]
“Many international high-tech companies are now locating research and development operations in Israel, where local hires are often veterans of the IDF’s elite computer units. Richard A. Clarke adds that “our Israeli friends have learned a thing or two from the programs we have been working on for more than two decades.””
On another note, Israel’s proxies are pushing to criminalize criticism of Israel. Maybe in the near future blogs will be spied on and discussion on Israel may be brought to a screeching halt, either by manipulating governments to censor such criticism of Israel on the web or shutting down sites. Who knows where this attempt to criminalize criticism of Israel will lead? This too is over-arching domination. It figures that Israel’s shill in Congress, Joe Lieberman, was the one to author the Kill Switch bill.
‘Maybe, who knows, what if.’
Too many variables here.
The answer must be to shut the whole thing down. Even if only for a very short space of time.
Press the master reset button. Then bring this business back on line with an entirely new program in place, one that can cater for all future possibilities and address every relevant issue that might then present itself.
Don’t worry about it; just do it. I’ve been an engineer long enough to know that hitting the master reset can fix an awful lot of problems.
That is, unless you don’t consider this to be a problem and everything is as it should be(?)
Huh? Shut what down? Begin by defining what the “whole thing” to you? I read your comment about shutting down the light switch. I assume this is figurative. Exactly what do you mean, if anything at all?
What I mean is this:
Just for once, let us make the situation work for us instead of it always being against us. Surely we’ve made enough mistakes in the past to realise what needs to be done.
We are all men and women; homo amd femina sapiens, thinking man, thinking woman. I know; that is a somewhat loose translation. But it must suffice for now.
We are all part of the problem. Is it not therefore fitting that we should also be part of the solution?
Ok, Kalea, that was just me letting off some steam.
To ‘switch off’ the ‘whole thing’ means getting to the heart of the matter, dealing with it at that level and no other. Trying to extract some meaning and purpose from the outer edges will simply be a waste of time. And there is no time to waste. Certainly not if you’re one of the next victims in this ceaseless conflict.
We all have to exercise SOME control over the situation. Not to do so abrogates our responsibility to our fellowman and to ourselves; all the more so if that control turns out to be almost effortless on our part.
Try clicking on my name at the top of this comment. That should bring up my blog where a more detailed explanation is presented. And please avoid coming back to say it won’t work because of this or that consideration. Think Occams Razor; the simplest solution is usually the best.
Nothing that’s been tried has worked in all of sixty plus years. So, time for something new.
We need ultimate control over whatever destiny we decide to choose.
For ourselves and for those who cannot choose.