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IRAN RETALIATES? July 18, 2012

Posted by wmmbb in Middle East, nuclear stockpiles.
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The report is from Israel, so it may be reliable, suggesting that the Iranians have issued a tat to successful computer viruses sent their way.

The most famous virus attack was Stuxnet, which discovered in discovered in June 2010 seems to have critically damaged the Iranian nuclear reactors, but had wider ramifications. Then there was Flame(r).  Greg Davis  of  Symantec explains the threat posed by Flame(r):

Peter Beaumont and Nick Hopkins in The Guardian not only suggested that these sourced from the US, but allegedly like the drone murders, authorized by the president:

The US was the principal player in the most sophisticated cyber-attack ever known and has been orchestrating a campaign against Iran designed to undermine the country’s nuclear programme, it has been claimed.

According to anonymous senior administration sources, quoted in the New York Times, President Barack Obama decided to speed up an initiative launched by his predecessor, George W Bush, codenamed Olympic Games, which aimed to use computer viruses to attack Tehran’s uranium-enrichment programme.

The disclosures about Obama’s role in the cyberwar against Iran appear to show beyond doubt that the US, with the help of Israel, was behind the Stuxnet virus, which sent some of Iran’s centrifuge machines – used to enrich uranium – spinning out of control. The revelation will raise questions about whether Washington was also behind the Flamer virus discovered by experts last week.

Flamer also targeted Iran, though its main aim was to spy on the country’s oil industry. It is believed to have downloaded vast amounts of information over two years and had technical capabilities never seen before.

The revelations about US involvement in cyberwar may be seized upon by China and Russia, which are regularly accused by Washington of cyber espionage and theft.

The depiction of Obama’s hands-on role in cyber attacks follows the highly political disclosure in an election year that the president had taken a personal role in approving terrorist targets for US drone strikes. The revelations on Iran appear designed to neutralise Republican accusations that he has been weak over the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme.

According to the New York Times, Obama took the decision to accelerate the pace of computer sabotage against Tehran in 2010, even after details about one of the cyber weapons developed to attack Iran, the Stuxnet worm, accidentally leaked on to the internet. It had been designed to target Iran’s Natanz nuclear plant.

At a meeting in the White House situation room within days of the Stuxnet leak, Obama asked his advisers, including Leon Panetta, the head of the CIA, whether the effort should be wound up because it had been compromised.

According to sources in the room at the time, Obama asked: “Should we shut this thing down?”, before opting instead to push ahead with the attacks. The Natanz plant was hit twice more by versions of the worm, which damaged up to 1,000 high-speed centrifuges then enriching uranium.

The revelation of Obama’s involvement in ordering cyber-attacks on Iran in a joint programme involving Israel follows the disclosure that Iran had recently been hit by the Flamer virus, thought to be 20 to 40 times larger than Stuxnet.

According to Ynetnews’ breaking story (via Twitter):

Russia’s Kaspersky computer security lab and Israel’s Securlet announced Tuesday that they have discovered that a “Trojan Horse” that has been active in the Mideast for months has infected computers of senior Israeli officials.

According to the security companies, the program collected data, screen shots, and sensitive material from individuals involved with national infrastructures, financial entities, and academic institutions. The experts discovered parts of the program that indicate that it originated in Iran. (Ynet)

So how does this new game of international relations end? The South China Morning Post reports:

Sanctions against Iran have created more opportunities for trade with China, which totalled US$29.3 billion last year.

“China’s economic ties with Iran have to some extent been made easier by Western divestment,” said An Baojun , a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Co-operation, which is under the Ministry of Commerce. An spent several years in Iran studying Middle Eastern issues.

The volume of bilateral trade has increased more than tenfold over the past decade, from US$2.5 billion in 2000 to US$29.3 billion last year, according to China Customs trade figures collected by the Global Trade Atlas, a Geneva-based company that provides trade data to the private sector, the UN and the World Bank.

“As some countries retreat from the Iranian market,” An said, “it actually creates more opportunities for some Chinese companies.”

Other that the blatant hypocrisy involved in the attempt to penalize and damage Iran, a member of IAEA, which Israel is not, even though a nuclear power, what is the point of the the sanctions and the cyber attacks against Iran, other than the pathetic, if true, effort to boost Obama’s toughness in his electoral context, or distract from Israeli cruelty and criminality in the Occupied Territories? Presumably there is more to the explanation.

UPDATE:

Here is an understanding of the US relationship with Iran, via Al Jazeera:

Dr Farmafarmaian is in Doha as a visiting fellow at the Al Jazeera Centre for Studies. She is an expert on Iran and middle eastern politics, an Affiliated Lecturer at the Political and International Relations Department at the University of Cambridge, and Wayne Owen Middle East Scholar at the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah.

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