The report comes from David E. Sanger, the Chief Washington correspondent at The New York Times and author of the upcoming book "Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power"... Here is a quick summary of the claims made in the report:
Feeling threatened by the possibility that Iran would enrich uranium at a nuclear facility at Natanz that could be used to create weapons of mass destruction, US President George W Bush initiated a plan to seize control of computer systems at the plant.
The first part of the plan (dubbed "Olympic Games") was to embed spying code that would send back information about the computer systems' operations and draw up a blueprint of how the computers controlled centrifuges at the plant. After months of waiting for the information to be relayed, the National Security (NSA) and Israeli computer experts created a worm (Stuxnet) that would allow them to attack from within the plant.
According to the report, the USA felt compelled to involve Israel in the plan to prevent the country launching a pre-emptive military strike of their own against the nuclear facility... The USA secretly built a replica of Natanz's computer systems, including centrifuges handed over by Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi in 2003, to test their malware...
Tests were successful, and the worm's orders to slow down and speed up the centrifuge's delicate parts caused them to suffer damage. At one point, it's said that debris from a damaged centrifuge was laid across the conference table at the White House's Situation Room to demonstrate the malware's potential power.
With the malware deemed ready, it was introduced into the Natanz plant via infected USB memory sticks by spies and unwitting workers with physical access to computer systems... As centrifuges failed, Iranian workers would close down the systems looking for signs of sabotage - not realising that their computer systems were compromised.
Days before Barack Obama was inaugurated as US President, George Bush successfully urged him to continue the classified "Olympic Games" program...
The attacks on the nuclear plant's systems continued, but potential disaster struck in mid-2010, when it became clear that "an error in the code" had allowed Stuxnet to spread beyond Natanz's systems and infect computers in the outside world...
As usual, the Times tries to overly emphasize President Obama's involvement when, in fact, Bush 43 initiated the effort and reportedly had to beg his successor to continue the project.
To this day, Stuxnet remains the most amazing virtual ordnance in history.
• The Illustrated Guide to Stuxnet
• The 5 Most Amazing Details of the Stuxnet Cyberbomb
• Juxtaposed Iranian Headlines o' the Day
Hat tip: BadBlue.com/tech.