Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Stuxnet Cyberattack: Does New WikiLeaks Cable Shed Light on Who Did It?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Stuxnet Cyberattack: Does New WikiLeaks Cable Shed Light on Who Did It?

Article excerpt

A German expert urged the US to adopt 'a policy of covert sabotage' of the Iran nuclear program, states a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks. Big caveat: Stuxnet worm predates the cable.

A document newly released by WikiLeaks shows that US officials were advised last year by a leading German expert on Iran to adopt "a policy of covert sabotage," possibly including "computer hacking" to disable Iranian nuclear fuel-enrichment facilities.

A Jan. 21, 2010, confidential cable released Tuesday by WikiLeaks reveals that Philip Murphy, US ambassador to Germany, informed American officials that the expert had advised that, from a German point of view, "covert sabotage (unexplained explosions, accidents, computer hacking etc) would be more effective than a military strike whose effects in the region could be devastating."

The Guardian newspaper on Tuesday identified the expert - whose name was blacked out in the confidential cable - as Volker Perthes, director of the Institute for Security and International Affairs, a German think tank that receives government funding. In an interview with that newspaper, Dr. Perthes confirmed the substance of the comments transmitted by the cable.

IN PICTURES: Who has nukes?

On its face, the new WikiLeaks cable seems to fall in line with recent news reports alleging US involvement in the deployment of Stuxnet, the world's first known cyber super weapon, The Stuxnet computer worm is reported to have seriously damaged about one-fifth of the centrifuge systems in Iran's nuclear fuel-enrichment program.

On Sunday, The New York Times reported that anonymous sources had confirmed that American and Israeli intelligence services were jointly responsible for developing and launching the Stuxnet worm at Iran's nuclear program. In an interview broadcast Monday, Saeed Jalili, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, told NBC News that internal investigations had revealed US involvement in the cyberattack. "I have witnessed some documents that show [American participation]," he said.

But the new WikiLeaks revelation actually adds nothing to the news reports suggesting US involvement in a cyberattack on Iran, says Stewart Baker, a visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. …

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