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Obama ordered cyber attack on Iran, says new book

President Barack Obama ordered the Stuxnet cyber attack on Iran as part of a wave of sabotage and espionage against the would-be nuclear power, according to a new book citing senior Washington sources.

The computer virus, aimed at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, was designed to damage centrifuges by making covert adjustments to the machines controlling them.

It formed part of a “wave” of digital attacks on Iran codenamed “Olympic Games” and was created with the assistance of a secret Israeli intelligence unit, the New York Times said in a report based on a book chronicling secret wars under the Obama administration.

The report confirms the suspicions of computer security experts who detected and forensically examined Stuxnet in 2010. They reasoned that the technical expertise and human intelligence sources needed to create and deliver what was described as the “world’s first cyberweapon” pointed to a joint operation by American and Israeli agencies.

It is estimated that Stuxnet crippled about 1,000 of 5,000 Natanz centrifuges by spinning them at damagingly high speeds. Getting Stuxnet into Natanz required a worker at the plant to carry it in on a USB thumb drive. “That was our holy grail,” one of the architects of the plan told David E Sanger, the author of the new book, Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power.

Josh Earnest, a White House spokesperson, neither confirmed nor denied the report. He said Obama had “marshalled international opinion” about holding Iran accountable and hoped Iran would “come clean” about its nuclear programme.

Officials also declined to say whether the US was involved in an even more complicated virus, Flame, which was detected last month and also appeared to be aimed at Iran.

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Posted by on Jun 2 2012. Filed under World News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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