The Miraculous Stuxnet Virus, Revising the Iran Timeline

Greg Scoblete writes: "I think the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg may need to revise his prediction that there's a 50 percent chance that Israel will bomb Iran in the next twelve months," and he links to this Associated Press report:

Iran's nuclear program has suffered a recent setback, with major technical problems forcing the temporary shutdown of thousands of centrifuges enriching uranium, diplomats told The Associated Press on Monday.

The diplomats said they had no specifics on the nature of the problem that in recent months led Iranian experts to briefly power down the machines they use for enrichment -- a nuclear technology that has both civilian and military uses.

But suspicions focused on the Stuxnet worm, the computer virus thought to be aimed at Iran's nuclear program, which experts last week identified as being calibrated to destroy centrifuges by sending them spinning out of control.

It is too early, obviously, to assess how much long-term damage the virus has done to the Iranian enrichment program, but I think it is possible to say that Stuxnet might be the best thing to happen to the Jewish people since the discovery that Scarlett Johansson is an M.O.T.

I would say, based on just a couple of recent conversations with people I quoted in my cover story this past summer, that the Israelis are looking at extending their time line on a possible armed response to the Iranian program, but the prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu, is still sounding hyper-vigilant, as we saw in his comments in New Orleans. I'm going to do more reporting on this, and on the most interesting question of all -- who inserted the Stuxnet virus into the Iranian program?
  

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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