Ronen Bergman has published a story in Friday’s Yediot Achronot on the Stuxnet worm, one of the few comprehensive reports to have appeared in the Israeli media which, as he notes, has studiously (and curiously) avoided an issue that has enflamed the world media. Bergman’s reporting on this is very important since he is known to have excellent sources within the security apparatus, while generally maintaining a certain independence and integrity. And he minces no words in stating baldly (through his sources) that Stuxnet has been a disaster both for the Mossad (he coyly refuses to explicitly name the agency as the source) and western intelligence agencies monitoring and containing Iran’s nuclear efforts. What’s especially critical about this is that few journalists (except me and several others) until now have specified the price that Stuxnet will exact from both its maker and all intelligence agencies working on this issue.
After noting German security reports on the damage the malware caused to Iran, the reporter also notes:
Concurrently, it [Stuxnet] caused tremendous damage to he who created it [i.e. Israel]. There are those already calling it the “Al-Mabouh of [All] Worms…”
…There can be no doubt that the organization standing behind Stuxnet brought nearer, in a way that can never be undone, the ability to launch similar such attacks [by others] in the future.
Bergman notes an uproar among western intelligence agencies trading accusations and recriminations back and forth about who is the author of the worm:
German intelligence (the BND) warns that if the Mossad planted this unripened worm, it caused great damage to the efforts against Iran.
According to the intelligence correspondent, Stuxnet delayed Iran’s nuclear program by “a few months,” which seems an extraordinary expense to go to for such a small payoff. Further, Bergman states:
One of the most expert sources on the subject says that the Stuxnet affair is the most central and important (to this point) in the “covert war” conducted by the west against Iran…Whoever [created the worm] did–either through stupidity or arrogance–enormous damage to this effort…While no one was killed or injured and there was no tragedy…we’re speaking about opportunities that are now foreclosed including other operations [that can never be successful given that Iran will now be on guard to protect its security].
In other words, the security weakness that Israel discovered and exploited could have been put to much more effective use. If you’re going to go to the trouble, why not get a major result instead of a paltry few months delay?
Very pointedly in Bergman’s report you will find no criticism of Stuxnet from Israeli sources. As far as the political/intelligence apparatus it was a triumph that will ring out the career of outgoing Mossad chief, Meir Dagan. It is a mark of the insularity of Israeli thinking that it pays no notice to the beating it is taking in the international arena for both the al-Mabouh killing and Stuxnet. I look forward one day to an Israel that joins the nations of the world, is welcomed by them. An Israel that refuses to engage in such dangerous adventurism. A nation that is pragmatic and cautious in its dealings both with friends and enemies, but especially the latter. That day will come.