A US daily has revealed that President Barack Obama secretly ordered a cyber attack with the Stuxnet computer virus against Iran to sabotage the country’s nuclear energy program.
“From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyber weapons,” The New York Times
quoted “participants in the program” as saying on Friday.
The report added that the offensive was part of a wave of digital attacks codenamed “Olympic Games.”
“Mr. Obama decided to accelerate the attacks - begun in the Bush administration and code-named Olympic Games - even after an element of the program accidentally became public in the summer of 2010 because of a programming error,” the report added.
The US daily also confirmed that the Stuxnet virus was created with the help of a secret Israeli intelligence unit.
Stuxnet, first indentified by the Iranian officials in June 2010, is a malware designed to infect computers using a control system favored by industries that manage water supplies, oil rigs, and power plants.
In July 2010, media reports claimed that Stuxnet had targeted industrial computers around the globe, with Iran being the main target of the attack. They said the country's Bushehr nuclear power plant was at the center of the cyber attack.
However, Iranian experts detected the virus in time, averting any damage to the country's industrial sites and resources.
On Wednesday, Head of the Information Technology Organization of Iran Ali Hakim Javadi said the country’s experts have managed to produce antivirus software that can spot and remove the newly detected computer virus Flame, which experts say is 20 times more powerful than the Stuxnet virus.
Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon strongly hinted Tuesday that Tel Aviv was involved in creating the computer virus to sabotage Iran’s nuclear energy activities.
Ya'alon expressed support for the creation of the virus and similar tools, arguing that it was "reasonable" for anyone who sees Iran as a threat to take such steps.