Operation “Olympic Games”: Report details US role in cyber-weapon targeting Iran centrifuges

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The Obama administration pursued a Bush-era US-Israeli cyber-offensive aimed at setting back Iran’s nuclear program, David Sanger reports in the New York Times Friday.

Code-named “Olympic Games,” and initiated in 2006, the cyber-operation targeted the computer systems that run the centrifuges at Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility.

But the operation, undertaken by the U.S. National Security Agency and its Israeli counterpart, went through various phases and updates, and in 2010, there was a big glitch: the Stuxnet worm spread beyond its intended target of Natanz to other facilities, and soon caught the attention of computer security experts around the world. And as Sanger reports, when US intelligence officials had to brief Obama about the alarming development, naturally, they initially blamed their Israeli partners for modifying the program without telling them:

At a tense meeting in the White House Situation Room within days of the worm’s “escape,” Mr. Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency at the time, Leon E. Panetta, considered whether America’s most ambitious attempt to slow the progress of Iran’s nuclear efforts had been fatally compromised.

“Should we shut this thing down?” Mr. Obama asked […] Continue reading