Iran Blames West for Stuxnet; Arrests Spies

In the aftermath of the discovery of the complicated and effective Stuxnet worm, Iran’s intelligence minister Heydar Moslehi blamed western intelligence agencies for developing and unleashing the virus on thousands of Iranian computers. He has now announced on Iranian TV that his own intelligence team has captured “several spies” implicated in the plot to derail Iran’s nuclear progress.

It is believed by many that Stuxnet was made specifically with the intention of sabotaging Iranian nuclear operations, and several accusatory fingers have been pointed Israel’s way, but Moslehi’s announcement seems to hold European countries and/or the U.S. accountable for the virus as well.

Stuxnet did indeed infect hundreds of the computers helping to keep Bushehr, Iran’s first nuclear power plant, humming, resulting in a lot of damage control necessary on the part of the Iranians. Even though the plant’s official launch ceremony was held on August 21, 2010, it seems that Bushehr’s ability to generate power and electricity has been severely compromised and its true launch delayed.

Moslehi, however, has reported that appropriate counter measures to the worm have been developed and implemented: “I assure all citizens that the intelligence apparatus currently has complete supervision on cyberspace and will not allow any leak or destruction of our country’s nuclear activities… Our domination of virtual networks has thwarted the activities of enemies in this regard.”

Like anything coming out of the mouths of Iranian leadership, Moslehi’s words cannot be taken at face value. Complete supervision on cyberspace? Domination of virtual networks? Seems hard to believe given the cyberspace sprawl and the mega attack recently suffered.

The identity of the arrested “spies” is unknown. Are they really spies, or just more hikers, nabbed under the ‘spy’ pretense, so they can be used as bargaining chips later on? Perhaps they are simply Iranians who disagree with the autocratic methods of their government. Any excuse for a crack-down.

Either way, Iran believes it has been the target of electronic warfare, and fully intends to up its defenses. Are the U.S. and Europe on the offensive?

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