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Israel tested Stuxnet worm in joint effort with US to thwart Iran, says report

A Stuxnet cyber worm tested at a secret facility in Israel’s Negev desert wiped out about a fifth of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, The New York Times reported yesterday.

By Laura KasinofCorrespondent / January 17, 2011

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (c.) visits the Natanz nuclear facility, south of Tehran, in this April 8, 2008, file photo.

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In a joint Israeli-American effort to counter Iran’s nuclear ambitions, a Stuxnet cyber worm tested at a secret facility in Israel’s Negev desert wiped out about a fifth of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, The New York Times reported yesterday.

The Monitor reported earlier this month that the Stuxnet cyber weapon may have destroyed as many as 1,000 Iranian nuclear-fuel centrifuges in late 2009 and early 2010. By Feb. 18, 2010, quarterly reports issued by IAEA inspectors highlighted that there might be problems in centrifuge installation at Iran’s Natanz plant.

However, what was unknown prior to the Times report was who might be behind the computer-based attack.

The Times report illuminates the role of Israel’s nuclear arms complex Dimona, says the London-based newspaper The Guardian. At Dimona, the Israelis, with support from the United States, are reported to have been spinning nuclear centrifuges extremely similar to those used at Natanz in Iran.

“To check out the worm, you have to know the machines,” the Times quoted an American expert on nuclear intelligence as saying. “The reason the worm has been effective is that the Israelis tried it out.”

On the eve of his retirement Meir Dagan, head of the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, gave a summary to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee saying that Iran was far from developing the ability to produce nuclear weapons after a string of failures set its nuclear ambitions back by several years, the Israeli newspaper Haartez reported earlier this month.

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