The Miraculous Stuxnet Virus, Revising the Iran Timeline

By Jeffrey Goldberg

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?
  

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2010/11/the-miraculous-stuxnet-virus-revising-the-iran-timeline/66930/