Digital Conflict

By Kevin Coleman

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Kevin Coleman

Did Stuxnet cyberattack delay the inevitable?

Last week, Iran took great pleasure in announcing that its Bushehr nuclear power plant was operational and now online. If true, this would make Iran the first Middle East country to produce commercial electricity from nuclear reactors.

Some sources have reported that Iran received nuclear fuel for Bushehr from Russia and must return the spent fuel. If that is true, that seems to further the argument that Iran’s nuclear enrichment program is for purposes other than producing electricity.

This announcement has many espousing the value of the Stuxnet cyberattack that was discovered by Iranian scientists in the late spring of 2010. Without question, Stuxnet delayed Iran’s enrichment program by months, if not a year or two. However, earlier this year, a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, stated that the Iranian government installed what has been described as advanced IR-2 and IR-4 centrifuges (self-made) that are said to be immune to cyberattacks like Stuxnet. The new centrifuges were installed and became operational in a fortified underground facility near the city of Qom. The upgrade will allow Iran to enrich larger quantities of uranium at an increased level of quality in a reduced period of time.

Reports from the intelligence community warn that Iran is taking action and conducting experiments that are designed to construct a nuclear warhead. The current situation has led many to believe that Israel will launch a pre-emptive strike (a combination of cyber and kinetic) and take out Iran’s enrichment capabilities. Some are even so bold as to state that it will happen in the month of September. Only time will tell.

Posted by Kevin Coleman on Sep 08, 2011 at 9:27 PM

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