09.18.12 8:00 PM ET
The Other War(s) Against Iran
Amid the din of Benjamin Netanyahu's constant pressure on the American government to make "credible" the threat of open war by lowering the threshold for it, one might forget two of the other wars being waged by the West against Iran: cyber and covert. Today, the papers carried potential examples of each.
Reuters has a report about a new virus that two separate computer security firms picked up on as they were examining the last reportedly U.S.-made worm, Flame:
For now, the two firms know very little about the newly identified viruses, except that one of them is currently deployed in the Middle East. They are not sure what the malicious software was designed to do. "It could be anything," said Costin Raiu, director of Kaspersky Lab's Global Research and Analysis Team.
Seperately—and much more dramatically—the New York Times cites a top Iranian nuclear program official (read: not too reliable) who says two explosions at the power sources of Iranian nuclear facilities were sabotage:
Iran’s most senior atomic energy official revealed on Monday that separate explosions, which he attributed to sabotage, had targeted power supplies to the country’s two main uranium enrichment facilities, including the deep underground site that American and Israeli officials say is the most invulnerable to bombing.
The official, Fereydoon Abbasi, a nuclear scientist who narrowly escaped an assassination in his car nearly two years ago, just before he was appointed to lead the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said one of the attacks occurred on Aug. 17, a day before international inspectors arrived at the underground site.
The reference to assassinations, of course, constitutes another aspect of the covert war against Iran.
One of the intrinsic qualities of these tactics is that they're done quietly and ideally with few fingerprints. The first instance may not have directly targeted Iran's nuke program; the Times explicitly reported that the second one was impossible to confirm. Are they delaying Iran's nuclear program? Who knows.