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Stuxnet Is the Bomb

Russia says yes, Science says no

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Yesterday, the Russian envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin called for an investigation of Stuxnet, the not-quite-as-mysterious-as-it-used-to-be computer virus that apparently has set the Iranian nuclear program back at least months.

The envoy’s reasoning, however, is a bit suspect. He claimed that the virus, which causes uranium-enriching centrifuges to spin out of control while sending out fake signals to operators, could have caused a new “Chernobyl tragedy.”

Except it couldn’t. I put the possibility to Yuri Tarnopolsky, a retired chemist. He noted that while nuclear reactors are extremely vulnerable to cyber-threats, “The enrichment of uranium with centrifuges does not involve any nuclear reactions and presents a limited danger to the personal directly involved.”

Seeing how Russia actually built the targeted Bushehr plant, you can probably assume there’s somebody in the country that could have told Rogozin about, you know, science. Even the Iranian ambassador to Russia, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, seemed a little confused. He told reporters during a visit to Moscow, “I don’t think there will be problems in that area.”

Russia Calls For NATO Probe Into Iran Cyber Strike [AFP]
Earlier: How Stuxnet Came To Be

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The original story put out by the Russians was that their scientists did not want to proceed out of concern for what might occur, but that the Iranians were pushing them to do so without concern for what might happen, and whether people might be harmed.

This is a statement that nobody in Russia, least of all Rogozin, believe will lead to anything. They are just trying to mend fences with their client, and send a message that they weren’t involved, (though others had speculated they were), probably to preserve their business relationship and to forestall any kind of reprisal against them that the Iranians might be contemplating.

It is so sad that the son of a famous Societ-era Weapons Scientist lacks basic knowledge of the operation of a centrifuge – perhaps they had a difficult relationship and didnt communicate well :)

Dan Klein says:

Conor! That smiley face is mean.

“The Stuxnet Story Is Full of Holes”

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Stuxnet Is the Bomb

Russia says yes, Science says no

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