News / USA

Report: Obama Knew of Cyber Attacks on Iran

A cyber warfare expert works on his laptop computer in Charlotte, North Carolina, December 1, 2011.A cyber warfare expert works on his laptop computer in Charlotte, North Carolina, December 1, 2011.
x
A cyber warfare expert works on his laptop computer in Charlotte, North Carolina, December 1, 2011.
A cyber warfare expert works on his laptop computer in Charlotte, North Carolina, December 1, 2011.
VOA News
A prominent U.S. newspaper says U.S. President Barack Obama has been orchestrating secret, sophisticated cyber attacks on Iran's main nuclear facility.

The New York Times cited anonymous sources close to the program who said the order - given just after Obama took office in January 2009 - was a major expansion of America's cyberweapons program.

The Times reports the cyber attack program began under former president George W. Bush, who encouraged Obama to keep it going, and the new president did so.

The main instrument of attack was a computer virus that later became known as Stuxnet. It was infiltrated into the closed computer network that operates much of Iran's main nuclear enrichment facility at Natanz.

The Iranian network had no access to the Internet, The Times reports, and the virus was introduced in a way that is still secret.  The account said the U.S. National Security Agency collaborated with Israel on the program.

The virus collected information on how critical Iranian control systems operated, then began a campaign of sabotage - repeatedly starting and stopping the centrifuges Iran was believed to be using to produce weapons-grade uranium, in a way that destroyed the delicate equipment.

The U.S. newspaper said the lengthy article it published Friday was adapted from a forthcoming book by The Times' chief Washington correspondent.  

The published account of the computer-virus program said the Stuxnet program, also known as a "worm," was never supposed to leave Iran's Natanz computer network, but in 2010 it became clear that the program "had broken free, like a zoo animal that found the keys to [its] cage."
 
The Times said President Obama expanded the Stuxnet program after it spread outside Iran.

Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful use, but the United States, other Western nations and Israel fear that Tehran is covertly developing the ability to produce nuclear warheads.

Officials at the Pentagon and the White House refused to comment to VOA reporters who asked about the newspaper account, but some experts said it should come as no surprise that the United States uses cyberweapons against Iran.

Aaron David Miller, a scholar at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center who has advised both Democratic and Republican administrations, said the cyber attacks appear to be part of a larger covert war, that includes "assassinations, sanctions, the isolation of Iran."

And Miller said that leads to a larger question.

"If there is no negotiated settlement on the question of enrichment, whether the covert war will morph into an overt one.  And that's the great fear."

Miller said a cyberwarfare strategy might be the safest way to deal with the international crisis over Iran's nuclear work, particularly if the alternative would have been a unilateral military strike by Israel.

Some use of force might become inevitable, he said, based on the Obama administration's stance - and on comments made by Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney - that Iran cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons.

"You wonder if we're not drifting - perhaps not this year but very soon after - toward some sort of military confrontation there, too," Miller said.

Iran and other Middle Eastern countries say they recently discovered another computer virus, called Flame, which some experts feel is potentially more harmful than Stuxnet. Reports from Iran and elsewhere, however, say antivirus programs are already available to deflect the Flame virus.

The unidentified officials quotes by The Times did not discuss the Flame virus in detail, but they said it was not part of the cyber attack aimed at Iran's Natanz facility.

The Times reports its story was based on interviews over the past 18 months with current and former American, European and Israeli officials involved in cyber security and cyber warfare, as well as outside experts.

Meanwhile, satellite images obtained by a U.S. research group this week suggest Iran may be trying to erase traces of nuclear weapons testing from a key military site.

The U.S.-based Institute for Science and International Security has published images on its website of Iran's Parchin military complex where the purported testing chamber was razed.

ISIS said before-and-after satellite images of the site show that Iran has carried out clean-up activities at the site, abnd concluded this raises furthe3r concerns about "Iranian efforts to destroy evidence of alleged past nuclear weaponization activities."

The International Atomic Energy Agency has been trying to negotiate access to the Parchin site, which Tehran says is used for testing conventional weapons.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: lara from: africa
June 03, 2012 8:04 AM
thought cold war was over. this could be another cold war, and by the way who was the winner of the first cold war

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More