Obama Ordered Stepped-Up Cyberattacks on Iran

He boosted program started by Bush, 'NYT' finds

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 1, 2012 4:12 AM CDT | Updated Jun 1, 2012 7:20 AM CDT

(Newser) – President Obama inherited a third war from the Bush administration, and he has stepped it up significantly, the New York Times finds in a detailed look at American cyberattacks on Iran's nuclear program, based on 18 months of interviews with dozens of insiders. The program—America's first sustained use of cyberweapons—was started by George W. Bush in 2006, and code-named "Olympic Games." Obama accelerated the program, even after a programming error allowed part of it to bust beyond an Iranian nuclear plant and spread around the world, where it became known as Stuxnet.

The American cyberweapon, developed with the Israelis, was able to destroy centrifuges used for nuclear enrichment by sending orders to slow them down or speed them up so quickly that their parts were destroyed, sources say. "The intent was that the failures should make them feel they were stupid, which is what happened," one source says. Administration insiders say that while American cyberattacks haven't been limited to Iran, the focus "has been overwhelmingly on one country." Obama has often told his aides that there are risks to overusing US cyberweapons, according to the sources, who say Flame, the latest cyberattack to hit Iran, is not part of the US program.

Iranian technicians work at the Bushehr nuclear power plant.   (AP Photo/IIPA,Ebrahim Norouzi)
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Previous cyberattacks had effects limited to other computers. This is the first attack of a major nature in which a cyberattack was used to effect physical destruction. - Former CIA chief Michael V. Hayden

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