Digital Conflict

By Kevin Coleman

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Kevin Coleman

Measuring the effectiveness of Stuxnet

The International Atomic Energy Agency has released its latest report about the current state of Iran’s nuclear program that's based on intelligence supplied by member states of the IAEA.

In this report, like many previous reports, the watchdog organization continued to raise concerns about a clandestine nuclear weapons program hidden from inspectors. The IAEA said Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation for it to completely rule out a military dimension to Iran’s nuclear initiatives. 

Iran has a long history of deception and denial regarding its nuclear program that's reported to include nuclear weapons initiatives. On Nov. 11, the IAEA briefed 35 nations about this and showed satellite images, letters, diagrams and other documents to support its findings.

As news of this report became public, an intense discussion ensued about Stuxnet, the cyber sabotage program designed to disrupt Iran’s nuclear enrichment efforts. Stuxnet was a cyber weapon -- a worm -- that targeted the industrial process controllers used for Iran’s centrifuges. To justify their view that Stuxnet was a failure, some point to comments that by this time next year it is highly likely Iran will have developed a nuclear weapon. In contrast, others believe that if it was not for the Stuxnet cyberattack, Iran probably would have a nuclear weapon by now.

Stuxnet was designed to delay Iran. That it did. Others are questioning the value of Stuxnet and ask if the attack should have been more aggressive. Was the total cost of Stuxnet divided by program delay an acceptable value? Most say that any delay in the proliferation of nuclear weapons is worth it.

Posted by Kevin Coleman on Nov 17, 2011 at 12:54 PM


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