Barack Obama’s administration has admitted that not only did it continue a Bush Jr.-era initiative to sabotage Iranian nuclear programmes using cyber attacks, it rapidly increased them.
The Guardian reported on an anonymous senior source for the Obama administration, who told the New York Times that the George W Bush project, codenamed Olympic Games, was stepped up under the present government.
Despite the damage Stuxnet caused to Iran’s nuclear enrichment program – the virus which was widely suspected at the time to have orginated from the US or Israel – Obama wanted to press ahead regardless.
Stuxnet was designed to shut down Iran’s Natanz plant where the country was suspected of conducting nuclear research. However, due to a programming error, it leaked onto the internet.
At that point, Obama allegedly asked the head of the CIA, Leon Panetta, along with other advisers, whether the cyber attacks on Iran should be stopped. He reportedly asked: “Should we shut this thing down?”. According to the New York Times’ sources, not only did he authorise a continuation of the Bush policy – the kind of policies the majority of Obama’s supporters undoubtedly wanted to see the back of – he sped them up.
The recently disclosed Flame attack – which had targeted the computers of Iranian officials and mined for information – was not a part of the Olympic Games plot. However, the Obama administration would not tell the New York Times if it was responsible.
As the Guardian suggests, the timing does not look like a coincidence: in the run-up to the Presidential elections, Mitt Romney has been doing his best to ‘smear’ Obama as weak-willed on foreign policy. This is despite an increase in drone attacks and Barack Obama personally overseeing the Osama bin Laden assassination in Pakistan.
The full New York Times article is here. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/01/world/middleeast/obama-ordered-wave-of-cyberattacks-against-iran.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&ref=global-home