Monday, March 12, 2012

412 Endgame for the peace process - Robert Grenier (former CIA director of counter-terrorism)

Endgame for the peace process - Robert Grenier (former CIA director of

Mailstar is down at present.

(1) Reason for attack on USS Liberty - response from Jeffrey Blankfort
(2) Reason for attack on USS Liberty - response from Eric Walberg
(3) Reason for attack on USS Liberty
(4) Endgame for the peace process - Robert Grenier (former CIA director
of counter-terrorism)
(5) WikiLeaks: Israel asked Egypt & Abbas to take over Gaza once Israel
defeated Hamas
(6) Stuxnet worm "destroyed Iran's uranium enrichment program" by speed
settings which ruined bearings

(1) Reason for attack on USS Liberty - response from Jeffrey Blankfort
From: Jeffrey Blankfort <> Date: 27.11.2010 03:09 AM
 > The Liberty had been sent to monitor communications,
 > to verify who was doing what. Dayan, defying an
 > explicit US ban, wanted to stop the Liberty from
 > providing signals intelligence to the US government
 > - which would have elicited a "Stop" order from the
 > US and a UN ceasefire before Israel had established

 > This is the only plausible explanation of Israel's attack.

Peter, I agree completely. The notion that the US in the middle of the
Vietnam War which was already going in the wrong direction for
Washington would want to conceivably begin WW 3 with an attack on Soviet
installations in Egypt is simply ludicrous. Also while Angelton's
devotion to Israel and his friend Teddy Kolleck is indisputable, Israel
didn't need any intelligence assistance from him or the CIA to destroy
Egypt's air force on the ground.

Israel was particularly anxious to take the Golan because they had been
informed of all the locations of Syrian defenses by Israel's most famous
spy, Eli Cohen. Cohen, a Moroccan Jew had been sent to Bolivia or
Colombia to establish a new identity as a Syrian businesman. After some
years, he "returned" to Syria a wealthy man and began to throw lavish
parties for Syrian officers who then took their new friend on tours of
the Golan where he mapped all of Syria's gun emplacements.
Thus, when Israel attacked the Golan they knew exactly where to hit and
they were not about to let Washington stop them. After the war, the
Russians, who were monitoring Syrian phone transmissions, overheard
Cohen talking to his Israeli handler and turned him over to the Syrians
who appropriately hanged him.

The Israelis have wanted his body back but they are hesitant about
making it an international issue like their demands for the bodies of
fallen Israeli soldiers and the reason for that is obvious. It might
make people in countries around the world begin wondering if or who are
the Eli Cohens in their midst. They should be doing that anyway.


Comment (Peter M.):

Your opinion in this matter is important to me. I'm very pleased that
we're in agreement.

(2) Reason for attack on USS Liberty - response from Eric Walberg

From: Eric Walberg <> Date: 27.11.2010 03:15 AM

thanks for this peter, but what about bamford's explanation? maybe both
hart and he are right?

The USS Liberty was monitoring and could have told the world the IDF was
"butchering civilians and bound prisoners by the hundreds, a fact that
the entire Israeli army leadership knew about and condoned, according to
the army’s own historian."At the time, Israel claimed it was the victim
of Egyptian aggression."* (*James Bamford, Body of Secrets: Anatomy of
the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency from the Cold War Through the
Dawn of a New Century

Comment (Peter M.):

Bamford's reason makes sense to a Westerner, but not in terms of the
Jewish religion - or at least its Zionist variant. They're so determined
to achieve Eretz Israel. Think of East Jerusalem - the Wailing Wall. And
Samaria. "Next year in Jerusalem" etc. These things matter much more to
them than accusations of butchery.

Previously, I had assumed that the Liberty was attacked over Israel's
actions in Egypt.

Only in the last day or so did I pay attention to the fact that the
Liberty was attacked on the 4th day of the war, when it was over, as
regards Egypt was concerned.

(3) Reason for attack on USS Liberty

From: Sherwood Ross <> Date: 27.11.2010 09:59 PM
Subject: Re: Reason for attack on USS Liberty: to take territory from
Jordan & Syria in defiance of US ban

What about because the Liberty was detailing the advances of IDF beyond
the previously agreed-upon (with the U.S.) boundaries?

Reply (Peter M.):

Johnson would have agreed to Israel taking out Soviet weapons in Egypt,
but not territorial acquisition. For Israel, territorial acquisition was
the more important goal - to fulfil Eretz Israel. This had no meaning
for Johnson.

(4) Endgame for the peace process - Robert Grenier (former CIA director
of counter-terrorism)

From: Ken Freeland <> Date: 27.11.2010 07:10 PM

The endgame for the peace process

Future historians will argue over the precise moment when the
Arab-Israeli peace process died.

By Robert Grenier

21 Nov 2010
Future historians will no doubt argue over the precise moment when the
Arab-Israeli peace process died, when the last glimmer of hope for a
two-state solution was irrevocably extinguished. When all is said and
done, and the forensics have been completed, I am sure they will
conclude that the last realistic prospect for an agreement expired quite
some time before now, even if all the players do not quite realise it
yet: anger and denial are always the first stages in the grieving
process; acceptance of reality only comes later.

There are growing signs, however, that the realisation is beginning to
dawn in Ramallah, Tel Aviv and, most strikingly, Washington, that the
peace process, as currently conceived, may finally be dead.

Washington: hoping for a miracle?

We should begin in Washington, in the aftermath of the seven-hour
marathon meeting between Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, and
Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, in New York last week.

To view the apparent results of that meeting in context, one would have
to recount the gargantuan structure of US military, intelligence,
economic and diplomatic support to Israel, painstakingly constructed
over many decades, for which there would not be space to describe it all
here - if indeed one had the knowledge to do so.

The edifice is so extensive, including direct military aid, weapons
transfers, access to US emergency weapons stocks, pre-positioning of US
military materiel in Israel, US investments in Israeli technology
development, US support for Israel's foreign weapons sales, weapons
co-production agreements, all sorts of loan guarantees, assistance for
settlement of immigrants in Israel - the list goes on - that literally
no single entity in Washington is aware of it all.

In September, the US Congressional Research Service made a noteworthy
attempt to capture it, but was probably only partly successful, having
no access, for example, to classified US assistance. The annual value of
all this is literally incalculable, and well in excess of the $3bn per
year usually cited, to say nothing of critical US diplomatic support in
the UN and elsewhere.

Given all this, confronted with Israel's refusal to extend its partial
moratorium on new settlement construction in the Occupied Territories,
and with anything more than verbal pressure on Israel literally
unthinkable, the US was hard-pressed to come up with additional
inducements which might extend the peace process even a little further.

Into the breach, as he has done so many times before, stepped the
redoubtable Dennis Ross. Ross, in discussions with an Israeli
counterpart, compiled an extensive list of motivators whose length we do
not yet know, but which was verbally agreed between Clinton and
Netanyahu in New York, and which will be presented in writing for
possible approval by the Israeli cabinet.

We are told it includes a US commitment to block any Palestinian-led
effort to win unilateral UN recognition of a Palestinian state; US
obstruction of efforts either to revive the Goldstone Report at the UN,
or to seek formal UN condemnation of Israel for the deadly Mavi Marmara
incident; an ongoing US commitment to defeat any UN resolutions aimed at
raising Israel's unacknowledged nuclear weapons programme before the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); vigorous US diplomatic
efforts to counter all attempts to "delegitimise" Israel in various
world fora; and, most importantly, increasing efforts to further ratchet
international sanctions on both Iran and Syria concerning their
respective nuclear and proliferation efforts.

To this the US is adding a commitment to supply Israel with some 20
ultra-modern F-35 aircraft worth $3bn - so new they have not yet entered
the US inventory - as well as a mysterious "comprehensive security
agreement," whose details have not been revealed, but which may include
unilateral US endorsement of Israeli troop deployments in the Jordan
Valley, in the event of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

And what is Israel being asked in return? Consider this carefully: in
return for the above written guarantees, Israel will consider agreement
to a brief, one-time-only 90-day extension of the partial settlement
moratorium, which excludes not only East Jerusalem, but also the cordon
sanitaire of settlements which Israel has carefully constructed to ring
the city and deny Palestinian access to it, after which the US agrees,
in writing, never again to request an Israeli settlement moratorium.

After witnessing US policy toward Israel and the Palestinians for over
30 years, I had thought I was beyond shock. This development, however,
is breathtaking. In effect, along with a whole string of additional
commitments, including some potentially far-reaching security guarantees
which it is apparently afraid to reveal publicly, the Obama
administration is willing to permanently cast aside a policy of some 40
years' duration, under which the US has at least nominally labelled
Israeli settlements on occupied territory as "obstacles to peace,". All
this in return for a highly conditional settlement pause which will
permit Netanyahu to pocket what the US has given him, simply wait three
months without making any good-faith effort at compromise, and know in
the end that Israel will never again have to suffer the US' annoying
complaints about illegal settlements.

Leave aside the fact that as of this writing, the Israeli cabinet may
yet reject this agreement - which seems even more breathtaking, until
one stops to consider that virtually everything the Americans have
offered the Israelis they could easily obtain in due course without the
moratorium. No, what is telling here is that the American attempt to win
this agreement, lopsided as it is, is an act of sheer desperation.

What gives rise to the desperation, whether it is fear of political
embarrassment at a high-profile diplomatic failure or genuine concern
for US security interests in the region, I cannot say. It seems crystal
clear, however, that the administration sees the next three months as a
last chance. Their stated hope is that if they can get the parties to
the table for this brief additional period, during which they focus
solely on reaching agreement on borders, success in this endeavour will
obviate concerns about settlements and give both sides sufficient stake
in an outcome that they will not abandon the effort.

No one familiar with the substance of the process believes agreement on
borders can be reached in 90 days on the merits; consider additionally
that negotiators will be attempting to reach such a pact without
reference to Jerusalem, and seeking compromise on territory without
recourse to off-setting concessions on other issues, and success becomes
virtually impossible to contemplate.

The Obama administration is coming under heavy criticism for having no
plan which extends beyond the 90 days, if they can get them. There is no
plan for a 91st day because there is unlikely to be one. The Obama
policy, absurd as it seems, is to somehow extend the peace process
marginally, and hope for a miracle. The demise of that hope carries with
it the clear and present danger that residual aspirations for a
two-state solution will shortly be extinguished with it.

Tel Aviv: buyer's remorse?

Meanwhile, in Israel, we are seeing something akin to buyer's remorse.
On the cusp of finally achieving the goal for which Likud has aimed
since its founding in 1973 - that is, an end to the threat of
territorial compromise which would truncate the Zionist project in
Palestine - the Israeli military and intelligence communities, which
will have to deal with the consequences of a permanently failed peace
process and the dissolution of responsible Palestinian governance in the
West Bank which could well follow, are actively voicing their concerns.

Even as ardent a Likudnik as Dan Meridor has recently said to Haaretz:
"I've reached the painful conclusion that keeping all the territory
means a binational state that will endanger the Zionist enterprise. If
we have to give up the Jewish and democratic character (of the state) -
I prefer to give up some of the territory."

The time for such second thoughts has passed, however. Having succeeded
in creating irrevocable facts on the ground, settlements which no
conceivable Israeli government could remove even if it wanted to, the
territory which Meridor and company would conceivably part with now will
not be enough to avoid the fate which they fear in future: the
progressive delegitimation of the current state, and the eventual rise
of a binational state in its place.

Ramallah: terminally gloomy?

The terminal gloom among the tired leadership of the Palestinian
Authority (PA) is palpable. They will not allow themselves to be openly
complicit in a negotiated capitulation to Israel, and yet they cannot
bring themselves to irrevocably abandon the process either.

The recent, relative success of Salam Fayyad, the prime minister, in
bringing some measure of security and good governance to the West Bank
notwithstanding, they know their legitimacy is tied to the hope of their
people for a just peace - a peace they also know, in their hearts, they
cannot deliver. They look to the Americans in hope of salvation, while
the Americans can only hope, impotently, for the same.

Both Israelis and Palestinians know that the relative calm prevailing in
the West Bank and Gaza cannot last indefinitely absent some prospect for
an end to Israeli occupation of the former. No one can see the way to a
near-term solution, and yet neither does anyone yet have the courage to
suggest an alternative future.

That will be the task of a new and probably distant generation of
Israelis and Palestinians.

Robert Grenier was the CIA's chief of station in Islamabad, Pakistan,
from 1999 to 2002. He was also the director of the CIA's
counter-terrorism centre.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not
necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

(5) WikiLeaks: Israel asked Egypt & Abbas to take over Gaza once Israel
defeated Hamas

22:55 28.11.10

WikiLeaks exposé: Israel tried to coordinate Gaza war with Abbas

In diplomatic cable documenting 2009 meeting, Defense Minister Barak
says Egypt, PA refuse to take over Gaza in case of Hamas defeat.

By Barak Ravid

Israel tried to coordinate the Gaza war with the Palestinian Authority,
classified diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks said on Sunday,
adding that both the PA and Egypt refused to take control of the
Hamas-ruled coastal enclave.

{caption} Ehud Barak, right, and Mahmoud Abbas speaking during the 23rd
congress of the Socialist International in Greece, July 1, 2008. Photo
by: AP {end}

The whistle-blowing website obtained some 250,000 diplomatic cables
between the U.S. and its allies, which Washington had urged the site not
to publish.

In a June 2009 meeting between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and a U.S.
congressional delegation, Barak claimed that the Israeli government "had
consulted with Egypt and Fatah prior to Operation Cast Lead, asking if
they were willing to assume control of Gaza once Israel defeated Hamas."

"Not surprisingly," Barak said in the meeting, Israel "received negative
answers from both."

While similar reports of such attempts to link the PA and Egypt to
Israel's war with Hamas had already surfaced in the past, the cable
released by WikiLeaks on Sunday represents the first documented proof of
such a move.

In the document, Barak also expressed his feeling that "the Palestinian
Authority is weak and lacks self-confidence, and that Gen. Dayton's
training helps bolster confidence."

The meeting which the cable documents took place just days before U.S.
President Barack Obama's Cairo speech, and a few weeks after Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's first visit to the United States, a visit
which revealed the deep differences between Obama and himself.

The cable also refers to what Barak describes as the debate within the
Israeli cabinet in regards to a "development of a response to President
Obama's upcoming speech in Cairo."

From: Roy Tov <> Date: 27.11.2010 11:37 PM

It's Raining Rabbis, Avoy!

Praying for Change | It's Raining Rabbis, Avoy!

A Great Teacher said once you cannot build a strong house on soft
ground. This is the first thing that came to my mind after reading one
of the most bizarre news about one of the most bizarre societies ever.
On November 25, 2010, two rabbis, a mayor and a beauty queen (a lizard
was in standby) used a balloon to reach the remarkable altitude of a
thousand feet above Kibbutz Ruhama in the Negev Desert. Once there,
watching over a dichotomy of blue and yellow, Menashe Malka and Reuven
Der’i prayed for rain. Nearby, doves laughed quietly. Underneath them,
the lizard was getting tanned under the relentless sun.

In parallel, additional prayers took place on land, near the grave of
Honi HaM'agel in Hatzor HaGlilit, and on Sea of Galilee (actually a
lake) on a ship belonging to Kibbutz Ein Gev. This year is the driest
since 1860; in Jerusalem rained 7mm in November as compared to an
average of 60mm. Similar statistics apply elsewhere in Holy Land.

It is difficult to understand the problematic nature of the event
without emphasizing some basic assumptions of Pharisaic–rabbinical
Judaism. In the first century BC, during a draught, Honi HaM'agel (Honi
the Circle-Drawer in Hebrew) drew a circle in the dust, stood inside it,
and informed God that he would not move until it rained. When it began
to drizzle, Honi told God that he was not satisfied and expected more
rain; it then began to pour. He explained that he wanted a calm rain, at
which point the rain calmed to a normal rain. Back then, he was almost
put into herem (excommunication) for showing dishonor to God. However,
Shimon ben Shetach, Queen Shlomtzion’s brother, excused him, saying that
he had a special relationship with God. Things have changed since then.
Once the Talmud was sealed, the attitude of the rabbis changed to meet
the blasphemous one of Honi HaM'agel.

What Honi HaM'agel implied was that God was subordinated to him. This
bizarre, very bizarre attitude was adopted by subsequent generations of
rabbis. It is implemented in many aspects of modern Judaism; I’ll
comment here on two of special interest.

The Lamed Vav Tzadikim (36 Righteous Ones, also known as Tzadikim
Nistarim, hidden righteous ones) are 36 righteous people whose role in
life is to justify the purpose of humankind in the eyes of God.
Tradition holds that their identities are unknown to each other and
that, if one of them comes to a realization of their true purpose then
they may die and their role is immediately assumed by another person.
This Pharisaic interpretation contradicts the Bible, which even in the
Old Testament emphasizes all humans are sinners; imperfect. Pharisaic
Judaism (all main currents Orthodox, Conservative and Reform are
included here) claims the prayers of these people can change God’s
designs. Many Yeshivot (Judaic colleges) claim their rabbis are within
the 36 righteous ones and thus can change reality in special prayers in
which the Tetragram (the four letters forming God’s name in Hebrew;
namely a future pi’el conjugation of the Hebrew verb “to be”) is
pronounced (Rabbi Ovadia Yosef performed this ritual more than once).

The most infamous application of this weirdo interpretation is known as
Pulsa diNura (or Pulsa Denoura, Aramaic for "lashes of fire"), a
kabbalistic ceremony in which the angels of destruction are invoked to
block heavenly forgiveness of the subject’s sins, causing all the curses
named in the Bible to befall him resulting in his death. Since the Torah
prohibits praying bad things on someone else, there is no better
testimony of Talmudic Jews being blasphemous. On the night of October 6,
1995, Avigdor Eskin, a member of the Gush Emunim (Block of the Faithful
– settlers in the Occupied Territories) claimed to have recited the
following maledictions of the Pulsa diNura: "Angels of destruction will
hit him. He is damned wherever he goes. His soul will instantly leave
his body... and he will not survive a month. Dark will be his path and
God's angel will chase him. A disaster he has never experienced will
befall him and all curses known in the Torah will apply to him. I
deliver to you, the angels of wrath and ire, Yitzhak, the son of Rosa
Rabin, that you may smother him and the specter of him, and cast him
into hid, and dry up his wealth, and plague his thoughts, and scatter
his mind that he may be steadily diminished until he reaches his death.
Put to death the cursed Yitzhak. May he be damned, damned, damned!"
Rabin was assassinated next month. In July 2005, the Israeli media
reported that opponents of the Gaza pullout plan recited the Pulsa
diNura in the old cemetery of Rosh Pina, asking the "Angel of Death" to
kill Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Next April, Sharon suffered a
stroke and left office.

Of course, such prayers are never accepted. We are dealing here with
something else. After this dramatic aperture with archaic curses, it is
of special seeing the backstage. Avigdor Eskin was bold, obscene and
public in his curse. More subtle in their actions were three other
rabbis. Yigal Amir – Rabin’s assassin – was being pushed by Avishai
Raviv (a Shin Beth provocateur known as “agent champagne”) to kill
Rabin. Roughly at the same time Eskin cursed Rabin over dark graves,
Amir wanted rabbinical approval to this action. He went back to his
Yeshiva - Kerem B'Yavneh – and consulted one of the lecturers, Rabbi
David Kav. He consulted also Rabbi Nahum Rabinovitch of Ma'ale Adumim
Yeshiva and Rabbi Shmuel Dvir of Har Etzion Yeshiva. Apparently they had
sanctioned the killing, though no charges were pressed against any of them.

Looking below the tanned and dry faces of the ballooners, one discovers
not the behavior of Men of God, but those of Mafiosi acting for the
material benefits of their gangs. It’s raining rabbis, avoy!

(6) Stuxnet worm "destroyed Iran's uranium enrichment program" by speed
settings which ruined bearings

From: chris lenczner <> Date: 29.11.2010 10:41 AM

Mystery surrounds Cyber Missile that Crippled Iran's Nuclear Weapons

In the 20th century, this would have been a job for James Bond.

The mission: Infiltrate the highly advanced, securely guarded enemy
headquarters where scientists in the clutches of an evil master are
secretly building a weapon that can destroy the world. Then render that
weapon harmless and escape undetected.

But in the 21st century, Bond doesn't get the call. Instead, the job is
handled by a suave and very sophisticated secret computer worm, a jumble
of code called Stuxnet, which in the last year has not only crippled
Iran's nuclear program but has caused a major rethinking of computer
security around the globe.

Intelligence agencies, computer security companies and the nuclear
industry have been trying to analyze the worm since it was discovered in
June by a Belarus-based company that was doing business in Iran. And
what they've all found, says Sean McGurk, the Homeland Security
Department's acting director of national cyber security and
communications integration, is a "game changer."

The construction of the worm was so advanced, it was "like the arrival
of an F-35 into a World War I battlefield," says Ralph Langner, the
computer expert who was the first to sound the alarm about Stuxnet.
Others have called it the first "weaponized" computer virus.

Simply put, Stuxnet is an incredibly advanced, undetectable computer
worm that took years to construct and was designed to jump from computer
to computer until it found the specific, protected control system that
it aimed to destroy: Iran's nuclear enrichment program.

The target was seemingly impenetrable; for security reasons, it lay
several stories underground and was not connected to the World Wide Web.
And that meant Stuxnet had to act as sort of a computer cruise missile:
As it made its passage through a set of unconnected computers, it had to
grow and adapt to security measures and other changes until it reached
one that could bring it into the nuclear facility.

When it ultimately found its target, it would have to secretly
manipulate it until it was so compromised it ceased normal functions.

And finally, after the job was done, the worm would have to destroy
itself without leaving a trace.

That is what we are learning happened at Iran's nuclear facilities --
both at Natanz, which houses the centrifuge arrays used for processing
uranium into nuclear fuel, and, to a lesser extent, at Bushehr, Iran's
nuclear power plant.

At Natanz, for almost 17 months, Stuxnet quietly worked its way into the
system and targeted a specific component -- the frequency converters
made by the German equipment manufacturer Siemens that regulated the
speed of the spinning centrifuges used to create nuclear fuel. The worm
then took control of the speed at which the centrifuges spun, making
them turn so fast in a quick burst that they would be damaged but not
destroyed. And at the same time, the worm masked that change in speed
from being discovered at the centrifuges' control panel.

At Bushehr, meanwhile, a second secret set of codes, which Langner
called "digital warheads," targeted the Russian-built power plant's
massive steam turbine.

Here's how it worked, according to experts who have examined the worm:

--The nuclear facility in Iran runs an "air gap" security system,
meaning it has no connections to the Web, making it secure from outside
penetration. Stuxnet was designed and sent into the area around Iran's
Natanz nuclear power plant -- just how may never be known -- to infect a
number of computers on the assumption that someone working in the plant
would take work home on a flash drive, acquire the worm and then bring
it back to the plant.

--Once the worm was inside the plant, the next step was to get the
computer system there to trust it and allow it into the system. That was
accomplished because the worm contained a "digital certificate" stolen
from JMicron, a large company in an industrial park in Taiwan. (When the
worm was later discovered it quickly replaced the original digital
certificate with another certificate, also stolen from another company,
Realtek, a few doors down in the same industrial park in Taiwan.)

--Once allowed entry, the worm contained four "Zero Day" elements in its
first target, the Windows 7 operating system that controlled the overall
operation of the plant. Zero Day elements are rare and extremely
valuable vulnerabilities in a computer system that can be exploited only
once. Two of the vulnerabilities were known, but the other two had never
been discovered. Experts say no hacker would waste Zero Days in that manner.

--After penetrating the Windows 7 operating system, the code then
targeted the "frequency converters" that ran the centrifuges. To do that
it used specifications from the manufacturers of the converters. One was
Vacon, a Finnish Company, and the other Fararo Paya, an Iranian company.
What surprises experts at this step is that the Iranian company was so
secret that not even the IAEA knew about it.

--The worm also knew that the complex control system that ran the
centrifuges was built by Siemens, the German manufacturer, and --
remarkably -- how that system worked as well and how to mask its
activities from it.

--Masking itself from the plant's security and other systems, the worm
then ordered the centrifuges to rotate extremely fast, and then to slow
down precipitously. This damaged the converter, the centrifuges and the
bearings, and it corrupted the uranium in the tubes. It also left
Iranian nuclear engineers wondering what was wrong, as computer checks
showed no malfunctions in the operating system.

Estimates are that this went on for more than a year, leaving the
Iranian program in chaos. And as it did, the worm grew and adapted
throughout the system. As new worms entered the system, they would meet
and adapt and become increasingly sophisticated.

During this time the worms reported back to two servers that had to be
run by intelligence agencies, one in Denmark and one in Malaysia. The
servers monitored the worms and were shut down once the worm had
infiltrated Natanz. Efforts to find those servers since then have
yielded no results.

This went on until June of last year, when a Belarusan company working
on the Iranian power plant in Beshehr discovered it in one of its
machines. It quickly put out a notice on a Web network monitored by
computer security experts around the world. Ordinarily these experts
would immediately begin tracing the worm and dissecting it, looking for
clues about its origin and other details.

But that didn't happen, because within minutes all the alert sites came
under attack and were inoperative for 24 hours.

"I had to use e-mail to send notices but I couldn't reach everyone.
Whoever made the worm had a full day to eliminate all traces of the worm
that might lead us them," Eric Byers, a computer security expert who has
examined the Stuxnet. "No hacker could have done that."

Experts, including inspectors from the International Atomic Energy
Agency, say that, despite Iran's claims to the contrary, the worm was
successful in its goal: causing confusion among Iran's nuclear engineers
and disabling their nuclear program.

Because of the secrecy surrounding the Iranian program, no one can be
certain of the full extent of the damage. But sources inside Iran and
elsewhere say that the Iranian centrifuge program has been operating far
below its capacity and that the uranium enrichment program had
"stagnated" during the time the worm penetrated the underground
facility. Only 4,000 of the 9,000 centrifuges Iran was known to have
were put into use. Some suspect that is because of the critical need to
replace ones that were damaged.

And the limited number of those in use dwindled to an estimated 3,700 as
problems engulfed their operation. IAEA inspectors say the sabotage
better explains the slowness of the program, which they had earlier
attributed to poor equipment manufacturing and management problems. As
Iranians struggled with the setbacks, they began searching for signs of
sabotage. From inside Iran there have been unconfirmed reports that the
head of the plant was fired shortly after the worm wended its way into
the system and began creating technical problems, and that some
scientists who were suspected of espionage disappeared or were executed.
And counter intelligence agents began monitoring all communications
between scientists at the site, creating a climate of fear and paranoia.

Iran has adamantly stated that its nuclear program has not been hit by
the bug. But in doing so it has backhandedly confirmed that its nuclear
facilities were compromised. When Hamid Alipour, head of the nation's
Information Technology Company, announced in September that 30,000
Iranian computers had been hit by the worm but the nuclear facilities
were safe, he added that among those hit were the personal computers of
the scientists at the nuclear facilities. Experts say that Natanz and
Bushehr could not have escaped the worm if it was in their engineers'

"We brought it into our lab to study it and even with precautions it
spread everywhere at incredible speed," Byres said.

"The worm was designed not to destroy the plants but to make them
ineffective. By changing the rotation speeds, the bearings quickly wear
out and the equipment has to be replaced and repaired. The speed changes
also impact the quality of the uranium processed in the centrifuges
creating technical problems that make the plant ineffective," he explained.

In other words the worm was designed to allow the Iranian program to
continue but never succeed, and never to know why.

One additional impact that can be attributed to the worm, according to
David Albright of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, is
that "the lives of the scientists working in the facility have become a
living hell because of counter-intelligence agents brought into the
plant" to battle the breach. Ironically, even after its discovery, the
worm has succeeded in slowing down Iran's reputed effort to build an
atomic weapon. And Langer says that the efforts by the Iranians to
cleanse Stuxnet from their system "will probably take another year to
complete," and during that time the plant will not be able to function
anywhere normally.

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