Stuxnet Continues to Wreck Havoc on Iranian Nuclear Program; Abbas Threatens to Walk Away from Peace Talks
Rapture Forum Staff: Chris
The recent discovery that a computer "work" has delayed work at the Iranian nuclear program for the past two months has been attributed to a computer "worm" that has infected the computer systems in Iran. Not only has this computer "worm" infected the Iranian nuclear program, but it has also effected China, India, and Pakistan as well. However, the infection of the "worm" has be saturated in Iran. Apparently the target of this complex computer "worm" is the German based Siemens software that is used in running the Iranian nuclear plant. There are also reports that the entire Iranian government infrastructure has been effected as well. So, it appears that what wasn't done diplomatically or militarily, is being done via cyber warfare. And that is stopping the Iranian nuclear program. The worm is called Stuxnet and the people or government behind it may never be known. There are some indications that the U.S. or Israel could be the leading candidates for such an infection. However, this does not rule out that the Russians or others may have been behind the sabotage of Iran's nuclear program. Right now the stage is quiet and no one is taking credit for the achievement.
While this has been in the news over the past week or so, it is apparently being reported that the infection of the Stuxnet worm could have taken place as early as January of this year. The Jerusalem Post reports:
Iran's first nuclear power plant, Bushehr, will be ready to begin generating electricity by January, two months after the original commencement date, AFP reported on Wednesday. The chief of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi, announced the delay, which was reported on the Iran's state television's website. Salehi blamed the delay on the very hot weather Iran has experienced recently, and some safety issues.
On Sunday, Iran's official news agency reported that a complex computer worm had affected the personal computers of staff at the country's first nuclear power plant weeks before the facility was to go online. The IRNA news agency quoted the head of the Bushehr nuclear plant, Mahmoud Jafari, as saying a team was inspecting several computers to remove the malware, but that it "has not caused any damage to major systems of the plant." The computer worm was said not to be the reason for the generation delay. Iranian and Russian engineers began loading fuel into Iran's first nuclear power plant in August, a major milestone as Teheran forged ahead with its atomic program despite UN sanctions.
The interesting thing is that back in August while we were watching for a possible Israeli military attack on Iran, the event never materialized as it appears that there was a "Plan B" that has surprised everyone, including the Iranians. This surprise was the setting in motion of the Stuxnet worm and the resulting havoc that has caused delays for the past two months in Iran. Reports are that this worm is of such a complex nature that only a state or major intelligence agency could be behind the implementation of it. This has raised eyebrows and given the Iranians a major headache as they try to figure out how to stop the damage as well as figure out how the worm was planted in the computer system at the Iranian nuclear facilities. This is clearly the work of a top intelligence agency such as the Mossad, CIA, etc. As mentioned earlier, the origin of Stuxnet may never be known. So, it appears that for the time being the Iranians have been slowed down on their way to a nuclear weapon. How long they remain occupied is not known. There are reports today that the Iranians have announced that they arrested several people in connection with the spy ring and that they have made some progress against the worm infection. The Jerusalem Post reports:
Iran's intelligence minister said the country has learned how to fight off a complex computer worm that some foreign experts have speculated was designed to target Teheran's nuclear program, state television reported Saturday. Heidar Moslehi was also quoted as saying authorities have arrested several nuclear spies, but he gave no details and it wasn't clear if the developments were related.
Over recent months, the malicious Stuxnet computer code has also affected industrial systems in India, Indonesia and the US But it has spread the most in Iran, including to several personal computers of workers at Iran's first nuclear power plant, which is to go online later this year.
The destructive Stuxnet worm has surprised experts because it is the first one specifically created to take over industrial control systems, like those at power plants, rather than just steal or manipulate data. Moslehi did not reveal where or when the suspected spies were arrested, saying only that Iran has "always faced sabotage" by foreign intelligence services. Iran periodically announces the arrest of nuclear spies without giving details.
In an interesting development, the Stuxnet worm apparently has some indications that it has some Biblical references in the code. The Stuxnet code mentions a possible allusion to the Biblical character Esther. The NY Times reports:
Deep inside the computer worm that some specialists suspect is aimed at slowing Iran’s race for a nuclear weapon lies what could be a fleeting reference to the Book of Esther, the Old Testament tale in which the Jews pre-empt a Persian plot to destroy them.
That use of the word “Myrtus” — which can be read as an allusion to Esther — to name a file inside the code is one of several murky clues that have emerged as computer experts try to trace the origin and purpose of the rogue Stuxnet program, which seeks out a specific kind of command module for industrial equipment.
Not surprisingly, the Israelis are not saying whether Stuxnet has any connection to the secretive cyberwar unit it has built inside Israel’s intelligence service. Nor is the Obama administration, which while talking about cyberdefenses has also rapidly ramped up a broad covert program, inherited from the Bush administration, to undermine Iran’s nuclear program. In interviews in several countries, experts in both cyberwar and nuclear enrichment technology say the Stuxnet mystery may never be solved.
While Stuxnet remains a mystery at this time and slowly goes about it's work delaying the Iranian nuclear program, the truth is that there is a serious case of cyberwar being played out in the Middle East and in the world. Whether the U.S. or Israel is behind the program remains to be seen, but it is clear that nothing is being ruled out in order to try to stop Iran. This is a situation that we will continue to monitor and report on as it develops. In the mean time, we need to continue to pray that this evil Iranian nuclear program is stopped by any means necessary. The world will be a radically different place to live if Iran is allowed to develop nuclear weapons.
In other news, the Israeli construction freeze is over in the West Bank and the Palestinians have decided to walk out of direct talks with the Israelis. It is being reported that the PLO has officially decided to break off talks with Israel in order to try to force the Israelis to reverse their decision discontinue with the construction freeze. The Jerusalem Post reports:
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Saturday evening called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to remain in peace talks despite the lack of a settlement construction moratorium extension. "The way to achieve a historic peace agreement between our two peoples is to sit around the negotiating table seriously and continuously, and not leave, because this is the place to resolve the differences between us," the prime minister said. Following the release of Netanyahu's statement, the Prime Minister's Office on Saturday requested that the government's ministers refrain from giving interviews about the status of the peace negotiations.
The U.S. envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, has been working around the clock to try to find a compromise on the construction freeze situation as it threatens to derail the direct talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. both sides have so far refused to budge on their positions. The Arab League was to meet on Monday to decide an official Arab response to the situation, but has apparently agreed to put off their meeting for four days to give the U.S. additional time to try to find a compromise. The Israelis for their part have agreed to limit the amount of construction, yet the Palestinians have insisted on a full freeze. The Jerusalem Post article continues to report:
Abbas met with dozens of senior Palestinians in Ramallah and sought their backing for his refusal to keep negotiating with Israel without a slowdown in West Bank settlement construction. The Palestinian Authority president briefed the group about US envoy George Mitchell's latest unsuccessful attempts to narrow the gaps. "President Abbas' position is clear: no negotiations under the shadow of settlement construction," Abu Rudaineh said before the meeting. However, he said contacts with the US would continue.
Mitchell, who spent four days this week shuttling between Abbas and Netanyahu, is now trying to enlist the help of Arab leaders, meeting with Qatari leaders on Saturday with plans to continue to Jordan on Sunday after a brief stop in Cairo. In remarks published Friday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit issued surprising criticism of the Palestinian position of making talks contingent on the settlement building restrictions, saying the sides should concentrate on drawing the borders of a Palestinian state.
Whether a compromise can be reached is uncertain, but as of now it does not appear that an agreement can be found unless either side buckles under the additional U.S. pressure to find a solution to the situation. It appears that the two sides will be meeting and discussing the issue over the weekend as well as next week. The outcome of these discussions and meetings may very well decide the fate of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. It is my thought that when looking at Bible prophecy that it would appear that one day the peace talks will breakdown and lead to certain conflict. This does not appear to me a matter "if" but a matter of "when" as the fulfillments of Psalm 83, Isaiah 17, and Ezekiel 38-39 are waiting to be fulfilled.
Let us continue to pray for Israel and the peace of Jerusalem. now more than ever, your prayers are needed. Things are getting very interesting in the region and as we have seen at the beginning of this Rapture Report, the first volleys in the coming conflicts may have already been fired as it relates to the Stuxnet worm. Let us continue to watch and see what happens. Stay tuned!