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Status Brief

Developmental Milestones/Developments to Date:

Current Assessment/State of the Field:




Oppenheimer, AndyCBRN Weapons: The Growing ThreatNATO’s Nations & Partners for Peace, Volume 48 Issue 3. Pages 14-23. 2003

  1. “Before and since the September 11 attacks, evidence has mounted that terrorist groups and terrorist-sponsoring nations are developing or acquiring CBRN capabilities.” – page 16
  2. “North Korea created an international crisis in late 2002, when an official admitted to a US envoy that his country had restarted a programme to produce highly enriched uranium (HEU)” – page 16
  3. “The crisis gathered pace when North Korea withdrew from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT); expelled inspectors from the United Nations-backed International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); and announced it had restarted its nuclear reprocessing plant at Yongbyon to produce plutonium.” – page 16
  4. “The world’s attention is now on Iran, on which pressure is mounting from not just the US, but also from the UN, the EU, and Russia, to sign an Additional Protocol to the NPT to allow the IAEA more access to Iran’s nuclear sites.” – page 16
  5. “…Iranians continue to insist that they are developing a nuclear power industry only, claiming it needs to save its vast oil reserves for export.” – page 16
  6. “The actions of North Korea and Iran threaten to consign the NPT to history if they continue in their current nuclear direction.” – page 17
  7. “Iran also has a well-established CBW (chemical and biological weapons) programme… it has stocks of up to 2,000 tonnes of weaponized CW agents, including choking, blister, and blood agents. The US believes that Iran has also produced the nerve agent Sarin.” – page 17
  8. “Syria is believed to have one of the developing world’s most extensive CW programmes, having allegedly received CW assistance and chemical agents from Egypt in the 1970s, and by 1986 had an indigenous capability to produce and weaponise sarin and VX nerve agents, and mustard blister agent.” – page 17
  9. “Unlike several of its Arab neighbors (Iran, Iraq, and Libya), Syria has never tested CW.” – page 17

NPT, WMD, Export Control, Iran, North Korea, Syria


Davis, Jim. “The Looming Biological Warfare StormAir & Space Power Journal, Volume 17, Issue 1. 57. Spring 2003.

  1. ”Until very recently, the lack of focus on this subject (biological warfare) has resulted in a lack of appropriate funding and accountability.” – page 58
  2. ”Unless we focus appropriate dollars and develop a coherent national plant to prepare for and prevent such actions, the United States will likely suffer an enormous economic loss that could even lead to our demise as a superpower.” – page 58
  3. ”A belief in one or more of at least six false assumptions or myths helps explain why individuals, including senior civilian and military leaders, do not believe that a mass-casualty biological warfare (BW) attack will occur.” – page 58
  4. ”Myth one: there never really has been a significant BW attack” – page 58
  5. ”Even before the fall 2001 anthrax terrorism in the United States, incidents of BW and bioterrorism have occurred on multiple occasions.” – page 58
  6. ”Today, more countries have active biological warfare programs than at any other time in history, which increases the likelihood that BW will be used again in the future.” – page 58
  7. ”Myth two: The United States has never been attacked by a BW agent” – page 59
  8. ”Myth three” you have to be extremely intelligent, highly educated, and well-funded to grow, weaponized, and deploy a BW agent” – page 59
  9. ”Dr. Tara O’Toole, deputy director for the Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies at Johns Hopkins University, believes we have probably crossed over the threshold from ‘too difficult’ to accomplish to ‘doable by a determined individual or group’” – page 59
  10. ”Much of the technical information is readily available on the internet, in libraries, and through mail order channels that provide ‘how-to’ manuals.” – page 59
  11. ”Myth four: biological warfare must be too difficult because it has failed when it has been tried” – page 59
  12. ”Myth five: there are moral restraints that have kept and will keep BW agents from being used” – page 60
  13. ”Morality can be marshaled as a reason both to limit BW use and to advocate mass killings – depending on the decision maker’s values and perspectives” – page 60
  14. ”Myth six: the long incubation period required for BW agents before onset of symptoms makes BW useless to users” – page 60
  15. ”There have already been multiple BW attacks, and to a savvy weaponeer, the incubation period can be used as an advantage rather than a disadvantage.” – page 60
  16. ”There are two primary motivations that might drive an adversary to attack the United States with a BW agent. The first motivation is to gradually ‘erode US influence’ as a world superpower. The second is categorized as ‘revenge or hate’” – page 61
  17. ”The author believes that there are three most likely BW scenarios the United States and its allies might face in the future: an agroterrorist event against the United States, a BW attack on United States and allied troops in the Middle East, and/or a bioterrorist attack against a large population center in the United States or an allied state.” – page 61
  18. ”Such myths continue to inhibit the adequate funding of US and allied biodefense” – page 66

Military, Anthrax, Plague, Smallpox, Tularemia, Sarin, Japan, Iraq, Iran, Nonproliferation, WMD


Wald, Matthew, “Hiring of Soviet Scientists Has Strayed From Aim, Audit Says,” NYT, Jan. 24, 2008, pg. A4.

  1. biosecurity program- program to hire former weapons scientists in Russia
  2. some weren’t weapons scientists
  3. unintended effect of indirectly supplying Iran with nuclear technology/concern over helping Russia surpass us in science

Department of Energy, State Department, WMD, Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, Russia, Iran


Afrasiabi, Kaveh, L., “Iran Sanctions Hit the Wrong Target,Asia Times, Jan. 25, 2008. Last checked Oct. 18, 2009.

  1. “Indeed, this much is clear by examining the poor logic of renewed attempts to toughen Iran sanctions on the part of the UN Security Council’s five permanent members (the US, Britain, France, Russia and China) plus Germany – the Five plus One – reportedly agreeing in their last meeting in Berlin on Tuesday t odraft a new resolution.  … [Which will] impose new travel bans, certain ‘asset freezes’ as well as calls for ‘vigilance’ with respect to the transfer of ‘banned material’ for sensitive nuclear activities, and ‘monitoring’ of the sanctions regime.”
  2. “The latest draft UN resolution’s provisions for ‘travel bans’ simply lack a sound strategic design, rigorous monitoring and enforcement mechanism and will likely fail to generate international cooperation and compliance.”
  3. “such UN initiatives will likely backfire on the UN and diminish its standing, particularly among the majority of the world’s population who belong to the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), given NAM’s solid support of Iran’s nuclear rights.”
  4. “Resolution 1747, while providing a short list of several scientists and heads of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps as intended targets for a travel ban, [cite omitted] nonetheless opens a loophole by stating ‘except when such travel is for activities directly related to items in certain sub-paragraphs.  One such exception deals with religious pilgrimage, another deals with Iran’s non-proliferation sensitive nuclear activities.”
  5. “There is always the availability of false passports and travel documents and the challenges of effective customs and border monitoring, particularly by Iran’s neighbors. [cite omitted] Then there is a lack of incentives for cooperation by other states, especially those which are critical of the US-led sanctions on Iran and which agree with Iran that these measures have the character of ‘psychological warfare.’”
  6. “the question arises as to the grounds on which poor scientists who simply follow orders should be penalized, and their freedom to travel curtailed.”

Academia, Misconduct, Iran, U.S. Foreign Policy, Nonproliferation, Non-Aligned Movement


Schmitt, Eric, “Panel Fears Use of Unconventional Weapon,” NYT, A 11, Dec. 1, 2008.

  1. “An independent commission has concluded that terrorists will most likely carry out an attack with biological, nuclear or other unconventional weapons somewhere in the world in the next five years unless the United States and its allies act urgently to prevent that.”
  2. “the Congressionally mandated panel found that with countries like Iran and North Korea pursuing nuclear weapons programs, and with the risk of poorly secured biological pathogens growing, unconventional threats are fast outpacing the defenses arrayed to confront them.”
  3. “The report is the result of a six month study by the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism.”
  4. “[recommendations include] improved bioforensic capabilities, and strengthening international organizations, like the International Atomic Energy Agency, to address the nuclear threat.  It also calls for a comprehensive approach for dealing with Pakistan.”
  5. “The report calls for conducting a major review of the program to secure dangerous pathogens and tighten oversight of high-containment laboraties.”

Bioterrorism, WMD, Biosecurity, Nonproliferation, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan


Kerr, Simeon,  & Morris, Harvey, Financial Times, August 29, 2009, p. 4.

  1. “The United Arab Emirates has seized a ship secretly carrying embargoed North Korean arms to Iran, say diplomats.”
  2. ”The UAE reported the seizure to the UN sanctions committee responsible for vetting the implementation of measures, including an arms embargo, imposed against North Korea under Security Council resolution 1874…”
  3. ”A UN diplomat whose country is represented on the sanctions committee said the UAE reported the ship was carrying 10 containers of weapons and related items, including rocket-propelled grenades and ammunition. He said the consignment had been ordered by Iran’s TSS, a company said to be linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and previously subject to international bans on importing weapons-related items.”
  4. ”The vessel, identified by diplomats as the Bahamian-flagged ANL-Australia, … The UN sanctions committee has written to the Iranian and North Korean governments pointing out that the shipment puts them in violation of UN resolution 1874.”
  5. ”The UN resolution, adopted following North Korea’s second nuclear test in May, extended an existing ban on the transfer of heavy weapons and nuclear and missile-related technology to cover all arms exports by Pyongyang.”
  6. ”The binding resolution authorises states to seize and dispose of items that break the embargo. The resolution also requires states to report to the committee on what action they are taking to implement sanctions.”
  7. ”While most focus is on dual-use technology, diplomats said the clampdown on public dissent after Iran’s contested elections had also raised concerns about supplies of arms to state-linked militias.”

United Arab Emirates, Iran, North KoreaUNSCR 1874, Dual Use, PSI


Associated Press, “Iran Prosecutor Accuses American Hikers of Spying,” USA Today, 8A, Nov. 10, 2009.

  1. “Commenting on the case, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the United States of jailing innocent Iranians and pointed to two of his countrymen — a nuclear scientist and a top defense official — who disappeared in recent years.  Iran accuses the United States of kidnapping them.”
  2. ‘There are some Iranains who have spent many years in prison without doing anything wrong, in American prisions.'”

Jurisdiction, Iran


Bell, Stewart, “Scientist denies spying for Iran; Immigration case; Judge Grants appeal, concludes Ottawa’s evidence is dubious,” National Post, March 9, 2010.

  1. ”Federal Immigration officials told the Iranian Scientist Mohammed Jahazi they suspected he had taken part in Iran’s arms efforts and had supplied information to Tehran on Iranian dissidents in Canada and Europe.”
  2. ”The government’s position before the Federal Court was that Mr. Jahazi was inadmissible to Canada under section 34(1)(f) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act as a member of an organization engaged in subversive activities and was associated with groups engaged in terrorist activities and subversion.”
  3. Mr. Velshi , spokesman for Citizenship said that the government argued that there were inconsistencies in Mr. Jahazi’s account of his past and travel history, and that publicly available documentation linked his Iranian employers with arms sales to terrorists.”
  4. ”Mr. Jahazi argued he held only a junior position in Iran, that he had never been asked to provide information to Iranian authorities and that he was a specialists in his field and could make an important contribution to Canadian Industry.”



Hintjens, Helen, and Ross, Eric, “Global Terror Laws Engaged Social Research,” International Institute of Social Studies, March 24, 2010.

  1. ”Andrej Holm, was arrested at gunpoint in his home. His partner, Ann Roth, suggests that his “writings on gentrification, together with him being a political activist and not always taking his mobile phone along” were what led police to suspect him and start a terrorism investigation a year earlier. Andrej was accused of conspiratorial meetings with the others arrested and was suspected of being a member of a “terrorist” (later “criminal”) group.”
  2. ”Other scholars and journalists were accused at the same time, their offices and apartments raided and their computers and address books confiscated. Among the reasons given for their arrest and the charges brought by the Federal Persecutor, were that they were seen as having access to libraries and as being intellectually capable of authoring “sophisticated texts” that might support terrorist activities. Holm suffered severe beatings by police and solitary confinement. After issuing subpoenas to try to find more evidence, the police released him on bail, though he still reports regularly to them.”



MacFarquhar, Neil, “U.S. Circulates new Iran Sanctions Draft,” NYT, A9, March 4, 2010.

  1. “The proposed sanctions would both broaden the scope and intensify three previous rounds of sanctions enacted since 2006 in an effort to persuade Iran to halt uranium enrichment and negotiate the future of its nuclear development program.”
  2. “The focus is on the Islamic Revolutionary Corps, which runs a vast array of Iranian businesses, while the oil industry is not included diplomats said.”
  3. “The new sanctions would also expand the list of individuals facing a travel ban and assets freeze for their work in the nuclear program.  Sanctions to date, which run to about six pages, have singled out companies and individuals involved in the nuclear and missle development programs or in efforts to help to finance them.  They include a ban on arms exports.”
  4. “One diplomat, expressing frustration with the level of proof demanded by China and Russia, said their negotiators went down the list as if they were expecting to get ‘a picture of each guy building the bomb.’”

Nuclear, Nonproliferation, Scientific Restrictions, Iran, China, Russia, U.S. Foreign Policy


Sanger, David, E., Baker, Peter, “Obama to Adopt Narrowed Stand on Nuclear Arms,” NYT, A1, April 6, 2010.

  1. “Mr. Obama described his policy as part of a broader effort to edge the world toward making nuclear weapons obsolete, and to create incentives for countries to give up any nuclear ambitions.”
  2. “[Obama] seekes to reshape the nation’s nuclear posture for a new age in which rogue states and terrorist organizations are greater threats than tradition al powers like Russia and China.”
  3. “For the first time, the United States is explicitly committing not to use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear states that are in compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, even if they attacked the United States with biological or chemical weapons or launched a crippling cyberattack.”
  4. “White House officials said the new strategy would include the option of reconsidering the use of nuclear retaliation against a biological attack, if development of such weapons reached a level that made the United States vulnerable to a devastating strike.”
  5. “But the President said in an interview that he was carving out an exception for ‘outliers like Iran and North Korea’ that have violated or renounced the main treaty to halt nuclear proliferation.”

Nuclear, Bioterrorism, UNSCR 1540, Nonproliferation, Iran, North Korea, Russia, China, NPT


Erlanger, Steve, ”France Denies Deal With Iran for Teacher’s Release”, NYT, May 16, 2010,

  1. “French officials have said the charges against her were baseless and also denied that her release was in exchange for a French court’s decision on May 5 to deny an American extradition request for an Iranian businessman accused of violating the trade embargo against Iran.”
  2. ”Justice Department officials in Washington said they suspected that the release of the businessman, Majid Kakavand, 37, was a quid pro quo for the release of Ms. Reiss.”
  3. ”Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner denied any deal again on Sunday. “There is no connection between these two Iranian cases, which were dealt with by the French justice system, and the freedom of our hostage,” he told a radio station. An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman also told the Iranian news agency, Fars, that there had been no deal.”

Export Control, Extradition, France, Iran


Mac CORMAIC, RUADHÁN, ”Teacher charged with spying in Iran returns to France”, Irish Times, May 17, 2010.

  1. ”Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said last September that France should consider a prisoner swap if it wanted Ms Reiss to be freed, and her release coincided with two high-profile legal cases in Paris involving Iranians.”
  2. ”Just two weeks ago France infuriated Washington by refusing to extradite an Iranian engineer who was accused of illegally buying electronic equipment from US firms for military use.”

Export Control, Extradition, France, Iran


Editors, “Gaza Blockade: Iran Offers Escort to Next Aid Convoy”, 6 June 2010, Guardian, Last Checked 26 October 2010.

  1. “Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, dismissed a UN proposal for an international commission to investigate last week’s commando assault on aid ships, in which nine people died.”
  2. “Another aid ship, the Rachel Corrie, carrying Irish and other peace activists, was boarded peacefully by Israeli forces on Saturday, escorted to the port of Ashdod, and its passengers deported.”
  3. “Israel’s no-compromise attitude to aid convoys could be tested again after two Lebanese organizations pledged to send boats to Gaza in the next few days.”
  4. “George Galloway, the founder of Viva Palestina, announced in London that two simultaneous convoys ‘one by land via Egypt and the other by sea’ would set out in September to break the Gaza blockade.”
  5. “The sea convoy of up to 60 ships will travel around the Mediterranean gathering ships, cargo and volunteers.”
  6. “Iran has warned that it could send Revolutionary Guard naval units to escort humanitarian aid convoys seeking to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza– a move that would certainly be challenged by Israel.”
  7. “‘Iran’s Revolutionary Guard naval forces are prepared to escort the peace and freedom convoys that carry humanitarian assistance for the defenseless and oppressed people of Gaza with all their strength,’  pledged Hojjatoleslam Ali Shirazi.”
  8. “Netanyahu has defended Israel’s right to maintain the blockade by arguing that without it Gaza would become an “Iranian port” and Hamas missiles would strike Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.”

Israel, Iran, Jurisdiction, PSI


Reuters, “Iranian scientist leaves United States, Iran says: Tehran claims CIA kidnapped nuclear researcher who turned up Tuesday in Washington,” July 14, 2010,

  1. “An Iranian nuclear scientist who disappeared more than a year ago and mysteriously turned up in Washington is on his way back to Iran via a third country, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman was quoted as saying by Iranian semi-official news agency ISNA.”
  2. “Tehran says Amiri was kidnapped by the CIA. He turned up Tuesday at the Iranian interests section of Pakistan’s embassy in Washington D.C. saying he wanted to return home immediately.”
  3. “Iran, which is locked in a standoff with the West over its suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons, has repeatedly accused the CIA of abducting Amiri, who worked for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.”
  4. “A man identifying himself as Amiri has variously said in recent videos that he was kidnapped and tortured; that he was studying in the United States; and that he had fled U.S. agents and wanted human rights groups to help him return to Iran.”
  5. “The mystery surrounding Amiri fueled speculation that he may have information about Iran’s nuclear program sought by U.S. intelligence. In March, ABC News reported that Amiri had defected and was helping the CIA.”

Iran, Nuclear, WMD, Scientist


Yong,William, “Scientist Says U.S. Wanted to Swap Him for Hikers,” NYT July 18, 2010, checked July 19, 2010.

  1. “American intelligence officers, most of whom would speak only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the case, have described Mr. Amiri as a long-term informant. They said he provided details about how Malek Ashtar University in Tehran, where he worked, had become the covert headquarters for the organization responsible for designing nuclear weapons and warheads that could fit atop an Iranian missile.”
  2. “During that time, Mr. Amiri said, the United States arranged for him to attend a university in Virginia and supplied him with a driver’s license and Social Security number, although, he said, he had not requested either document.”

Iran, Academia, Scientist, Nuclear, WMD


Reuters, “Iran has material for 1-2 atom bombs: ex-IAEA aide” September 6, 2010, 7

  1. “In theory, it is enough to make one or two nuclear arms. But to reach the final step, when one only has just enough material for two weapons, does not make sense,” Heinonen said in the interview carried out just before he left office.”
  2. “Top Pentagon officials told the U.S. Congress in April that Iran could produce enough highly enriched uranium for a single nuclear weapon in as little as a year — but would probably need three to five years to assemble, test and deploy it.”

Iran, Nuclear, WMD


Jonathan Fildes, “Stuxnet worm ‘targeted high-value Iranian assetsBBC News, September 24 2010.

  1. “It is believed to be the first-known worm designed to target real-world infrastructure such as power stations, water plants and industrial units.”
  2. “Some have speculated that it could have been aimed at disrupting Iran’s delayed Bushehr nuclear power plant or the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz.”
  3. “However, Mr O’Murchu and others, such as security expert Bruce Schneier, have said that there was currently not enough evidence to draw conclusions about what its intended target was or who had written it.”



EditorsThe Meaning of Stuxnet” 30 September 2010 The Economist Last Checked March 16, 2011.

  1. “The Stuxnet worm, a piece of software that infects industrial-control systems,…”
  2. “Its… complexity suggests that it is the work of a team of well-funded experts, probably with the backing of a national government, rather than rogue hackers or cyber-criminals…”
  3. “It is designed to infect a particular configuration of a particular type of industrial-control system—in other words, to disrupt the operation of a specific process or plant.”
  4. “The Stuxnet outbreak has been concentrated in Iran, which suggests that a nuclear facility in that country was the intended target.”
  5. “This is, in short a new kind of cyber-attack.”
  6. “This was a weapon aimed at a specific target- it has been called a “cyber-missile”’.
  7. “One or more governments (the prime suspects are Israel and America) were probably behind it.”
  8. “The potential for this sort of attack, Stuxnet is a worked example of cyberwar’s potential- and its limitations.”
  9. “Cyberwar has focused on the potential for a “digital Pearl Harbour”, in which a country’s power grids and other critical infrastructure are disabled by attackers.”
  10. “Stuxnet, which exploits flaws in Microsoft Windows to spread on to stand-alone systems via USB memory sticks, shows they are more vulnerable…”
  11. “Stuxnet… reveals the potential for cyber-weapons that target specific systems, rather than simply trying to cause as much mayhem as possible.”
  12. “Specificity, along with the deniability and difficulty tracing a cyber-weapon,… appeal to governments that would like to disable a particular target… avoiding a direct military attack…”
  13. “A cyber-attack is no substitute for a physical attack.”

Cybersecurity, Iran, Israel


Editors, “Iran admits its nuclear facilities are under massive cyberattack”  Homeland Security Newswire, October 2 2010. 9

  1. “Iran’s nuclear agency has admitted it is battling to contain a computer worm that experts say was designed by a hostile government — read: Israel — and has the capacity to shut down industrial plants.”
  2. “Iran has confirmed that 30,000 computers in the country’s power stations, including the nuclear reactor in Bushehr, have been attacked by the Stuxnet worm.”
  3. “Sky News reports that the Stuxnet worm is described by experts as the most complex piece of malware ever designed. Once it gains access to a plant’s computers, it hunts out specific software that controls operations such as the opening and closing of valves or temperature regulation.”
  4. “By halting those processes it can cause extensive damage to nuclear power stations, power grids or other industrial facilities.”
  5. “Alan Bentley, senior vice president of IT security company Lumension, told Sky News Online: “The worrying thing about Stuxnet is that mischief or financial reward wasn’t its purpose, it was aimed right at the heart of a critical infrastructure. Stuxnet isn’t just another piece of malware. It is the most refined piece of malware ever discovered.””
  6. “The worm was discovered in July and attacks were reported primarily in Iran but other countries such as Pakistan and Indonesia have been affected.”
  7. “Technology security provider Symantec told the Financial Times it would have taken a team of ten specialized programmers about six months of full-time work to design Stuxnet.”
  8. ““Government organizations across the world need to think carefully about how they are protecting their power stations, water plants and industrial units, from malicious attack,” Bentley added.”

Cybersecurity, Iran


Editors, “Experts: Israel used cyber weapon to disrupt Iran’s nuclear reactorHomeland Security Newswire, Published September 23 2010, Last accessed October 2 2010. 10

  1. “A highly sophisticated computer worm that has burrowed into industrial systems worldwide over the past year may have been a “search-and-destroy weapon” built to take out Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactor, according to news reports published on Tuesday.”
  2. “The articles from IDG News and The Christian Science Monitor said the Stuxnet worm was programmed to probe the hosts it infected for extremely specific settings. Unless it identified the hardware fingerprint it was looking for in industrial software systems made by Siemens, it remained largely dormant.”
  3. “The appearance of Stuxnet created a ripple of amazement among computer security experts. Too large, too encrypted, too complex to be immediately understood, it employed amazing new tricks, like taking control of a computer system without the user taking any action or clicking any button other than inserting an infected memory stick. Experts say it took a massive expenditure of time, money, and software engineering talent to identify and exploit such vulnerabilities in industrial control software systems.”
  4. “Industrial control systems experts now have concluded, after nearly four months spent reverse engineering Stuxnet, that the world faces a new breed of malware that could become a template for attackers wishing to launch digital strikes at physical targets worldwide. Internet link not required.”
  5. “Dan Goodin writes that it was only after a unique configuration on a Programmable Logic Controller device was detected that Stuxnet took action. Under those circumstances, the worm made changes to a piece of Siemens code called Operational Block 35, which monitors critical factory operations, according to IDG, which cited Eric Byres, CTO of security firm Byres Security.”
  6. ““Stuxnet is essentially a precision, military-grade cyber missile deployed early last year to seek out and destroy one real-world target of high importance — a target still unknown,” the Christian Science Monitor said. It went on to say that the digital fingerprinting capability “shows Stuxnet to be not spyware, but rather attackware meant to destroy.””
  7. “Both reports said the sophistication of Stuxnet suggests Israel or some other nation state is behind the worm and both articles cited speculation by Ralph Langner that the intended target may have been Iran’s Bushehr reactor, located about 750 miles from Tehran.”
  8. “The Iranian project faced reported delays around the same time Stuxnet is believed to have propagated, and the plant is believed to use the Windows-based Siemens software targeted in the attacks, IDG said.”
  9. The Christian Science Monitor said Stuxnet may already have exacted damage on Bushehr and noted the facility’s expected opening in late August has been delayed for unknown reasons.”

Cybersecurity, Iran, Israel


Markoff J. & Sanger E., “In a Computer Worm, a Possible Biblical ClueNY Times, Published September 29 2010. Last accessed October 2, 2010 11

  1. “Not surprisingly, the Israelis are not saying whether Stuxnet has any connection to the secretive cyberwar unit it has built inside Israel’s intelligence service. Nor is the Obama administration, which while talking about cyberdefenses has also rapidly ramped up a broad covert program, inherited from the Bush administration, to undermine Iran’s nuclear program. In interviews in several countries, experts in both cyberwar and nuclear enrichment technology say the Stuxnet mystery may never be solved.”
  2. “The malicious code has appeared in many countries, notably China, India, Indonesia and Iran. But there are tantalizing hints that Iran’s nuclear program was the primary target.”
  3. “The fact that Stuxnet appears designed to attack a certain type of Siemens industrial control computer, used widely to manage oil pipelines, electrical power grids and many kinds of nuclear plants, may be telling. Just last year officials in Dubai seized a large shipment of those controllers — known as the Simatic S-7 — after Western intelligence agencies warned that the shipment was bound for Iran and would likely be used in its nuclear program.”
  4. “Also, starting in the summer of 2009, the Iranians began having tremendous difficulty running their centrifuges, the tall, silvery machines that spin at supersonic speed to enrich uranium — and which can explode spectacularly if they become unstable.”
  5. “For intelligence agencies they are an almost irresistible weapon, free of fingerprints. Israel has poured huge resources into Unit 8200, its secretive cyberwar operation, and the United States has built its capacity inside the National Security Agency and inside the military, which just opened a Cyber Command.”
  6. “But the near impossibility of figuring out where they came from makes deterrence a huge problem — and explains why many have warned against the use of cyberweapons. No country, President Obama was warned even before he took office, is more vulnerable to cyberattack than the United States.”
  7. “There are many reasons to suspect Israel’s involvement in Stuxnet. Intelligence is the single largest section of its military and the unit devoted to signal, electronic and computer network intelligence, known as Unit 8200, is the largest group within intelligence.”
  8. “But other Israeli experts said they doubted Israel’s involvement. Shai Blitzblau, the technical director and head of the computer warfare laboratory at Maglan, an Israeli company specializing in information security, said he was “convinced that Israel had nothing to do with Stuxnet.””
  9. “Mr. Blitzblau noted that the worm hit India, Indonesia and Russia before it hit Iran, though the worm has been found disproportionately in Iranian computers. He also noted that the Stuxnet worm has no code that reports back the results of the infection it creates. Presumably, a good intelligence agency would like to trace its work.”

Cybersecurity, Iran, Israel


Waterman, Shaun, “Hackers Shopping Malware Network Suspected of Backing Iran”, 26 October 2010, Washington Times Last Checked 27 October 2010.

  1. “A hacker group calling itself the Iranian Cyber Army is assembling a network of infected computers, and selling it to cybercriminals to spread spam and malicious software, according to security researchers.”
  2. “Most researchers regard the Iranian Cyber Army (ICA) as ‘hacktivists’ — politically motivated pro-Iranian hackers — and there is no evidence they are linked to the Tehran government.”
  3. “The group was exploiting a vulnerability in WordPress, a popular blogging software program, to gain control of unsuspecting Internet users’ computers and add them to its network — known as a botnet, or robot network — of infected machines.”
  4. “Botnets can be used to send spam e-mail or spread more malware, but they can also be used to conduct so-called denial-of-service attacks against websites.”
  5. “Visitors were surreptitiously redirected to a hacker-controlled website, where they were infected with a so-called Trojan downloader — a kind of malicious software that allows hackers to take control of the user’s computer.”
  6. “The Trojan was placed on the visitors’ computers by exploiting well-known vulnerabilities in several widely used software packages, including Adobe PDF, Java and Internet Explorer.”
  7. “The ICA appeared to be selling access to the computers it had infected to other cybercrime gangs, who were loading their own malware onto them, effectively recruiting them to multiple other botnets, or equipping them to steal banking passwords or other personal data from their owners.”
  8. “Botnet, one of hundreds controlled by hacker gangs and cybercrime syndicates all over the world, could be used to launch cyber-attacks against Tehran’s enemies.”

Cybersecurity, Iran


Editors, “North Korean Uranium Plant Stokes Proliferation Worries”, 24 Wednesday 2010, Global Security Newswire Last Checked 26 November 2010.

  1. “It is believed that Pyongyang — further impoverished by international sanctions and in need of money — might try to support Iran’s nuclear program as the Gulf state has apparently encountered technical hurdles in its enrichment of uranium.”
  2. “In recent years, multiple North Korean-origin weapon shipments have been seized en route to Iran.”
  3. “North Korea and Iran have deepened their military ties and have cooperated in the creation of new missiles, conventional weapons and submarines.”
  4. “Pyongyang might have used China — North Korea’s historic ally and main economic benefactor — as a midshipment location for acquiring prohibited enrichment machinery, the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security said in an October report.”
  5. “Nothing suggests Beijing is ‘secretly approving or willfully ignoring exports’ that would bolster the North’s military nuclear effort, according to the report.”
  6. “London-based proliferation specialist Mark Fitzpatrick said private Chinese citizens and companies are more likely than the government to have supported Pyongyang’s equipment procurement efforts.”
  7. “A high-ranking U.S. official said Washington is aware of the North’s potential for nuclear proliferation, but asserted that heightened U.N. Security Council measures have greatly constrained the aspiring nuclear power’s capacity to move prohibited goods to outside buyers.”

PSI, Nuclear, North Korea, Iran, China


Yong, William, Worth, Robert, F., “Bombings Hit Atomic Experts in Iran Streets,” November 29, 2010, NYT last checked December 1, 2010.

  1. “Unidentified assailants riding motorcycles carried out separate bomb attacks here on Monday against two of the country’s top nuclear scientists, killing one and prompting accusations that the United States and Israel were again trying to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program.”
  2. “The slain scientist, Majid Shahriari, managed a “major project” for the country’s Atomic Energy Organization, Iran’s nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, told the semiofficial IRNA news agency. His wounded colleague, Fereydoon Abbasi, is believed to be even more important; he is on the United Nations Security Council’s sanctions list for ties to the Iranian nuclear effort.”
  3. “The two scientists are among the most prominent in the Iranian nuclear world, and the brazen daylight attacks on them seemed certain to worsen tensions over the country’s controversial uranium enrichment efforts.”
  4. “Israel and the United States have often signaled that they will not tolerate a nuclear Iran. Neither has acknowledged pursuing sabotage or assassinations there, but both are widely believed to be pursuing ways to undermine the country’s nuclear program short of bombing reactor sites, including damaging the centrifuges to slow down the production of enriched uranium.”
  5. “Dr. Shahriari published dozens of esoteric conference reports and peer-reviewed articles on nuclear research, at least five of which list Mr. Salehi, the Iranian nuclear agency chief, as a co-author. He was an expert on neutron transport, a field that lies at the heart of nuclear chain reactions in bombs and reactors. Some Iranian media reports said he taught at the Supreme National Defense University, which is run by the Iranian Army.”
  6. “Mr. Ahmadinejad, speaking at a news conference, vowed that the nuclear program would continue, but acknowledged damage from the computer worm. ‘They succeeded in creating problems for a limited number of our centrifuges with the software they had installed in electronic parts,’ he said.”
  7. “A worm known as Stuxnet is believed to have struck Iran over the summer. Experts said that the program, which is precisely calibrated to send nuclear centrifuges wildly out of control, was probably developed by technicians working for a government.”
  8. “The motorcycle attackers attached the bombs to the professors’ cars, then drove off, detonating them from a distance, according to Iranian news media reports. Dr. Abbasi’s wife was also hurt, the reports said.”
  9. “Last January, a remote-controlled bomb killed a physics professor, Massoud Ali Mohammadi, outside his home. The Iranian authorities also blamed that attack on the United States and Israel, a charge the State Department dismissed as absurd. In 2007, state television said that another nuclear scientist, Ardeshir Hosseinpour, had died of gas poisoning. Both Dr. Mohammadi and Dr. Shahriari were associated with a nonnuclear scientific research unit, based in Jordan and operating under United Nations auspices, known as Sesame, for Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East. Unusually, its nine-member council includes representatives from Israel, along with Iran and other Muslim countries. It was not clear whether the bomb attacks on the two Iranian scientists were linked to their association with the organization.”

Sabotage, Iran, Israel, Nuclear, Academia


Pomfret, JohnU.S. Asked China to Stop Missile Parts Shipment to Iran” 29 November 2010, Washington Post Last Checked 1 December 2010.

  1. “U.S. officials have long accused China of failing to crack down on proliferation activities that occur on its territory.”
  2. “For decades, China was a major proliferator of missiles itself, but that activity seemed to slow in the 1990s under U.S. pressure.”
  3. “The United States asked China in 2007 to stop a shipment of ballistic missile parts going from North Korea to Iran through Beijing and indicated that the U.S. government was fed up with China’s unwillingness to crack down on such trade, according to reports Sunday based on U.S. diplomatic cables.”
  4. “Another cable highlighted U.S. concern this year that Chinese firms were supplying North Korea with precursors for chemical weapons – in what would be a violation of U.N. sanctions.”
  5. “In May, Clinton said the United States was concerned that exports by named Chinese firms ‘could be used for or diverted to a CW [chemical weapons] program.’”
  6. “Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton continued to pressure China on proliferation issues, this time because it was apparently turning a blind eye to its own companies.”
  7. “China passed export control laws, but Beijing has rarely, according to U.S. officials and the cables revealed Sunday, actively worked to stop proliferation from occurring on its territory.”

PSI, Nuclear, North Korea, Iran, China, Chemical, Nonproliferation


Broad, William, et al.Iran Fortifies Its Arsenal With the Aid of North Korea” 28 November 2010, NYTimes Last Checked 2 December 2010.

  1. “Secret American intelligence assessments have concluded that Iran has obtained a cache of advanced missiles, based on a Russian design, that are much more powerful than anything Washington has publicly conceded that Tehran has in its arsenal, diplomatic cables show.”
  2. “Fragmentary reports surfaced that North Korea might have sold Iran missiles based on a Russian design called the R-27, once used aboard Soviet submarines to carry nuclear warheads.”
  3. “The North Korean version of the advanced missile, known as the BM-25, could carry a nuclear warhead.”
  4. “Intelligence agencies believe that the complete shipment indeed took place, and that Iran is taking pains to master the technology in an attempt to build a new generation of missiles.”
  5. “The cables say that Iran not only obtained the BM-25, but also saw the advanced technology as a way to learn how to design and build a new class of more powerful engines.”
  6. “Many arms control experts concluded that isolated components made their way to Iran, but there has been little support for the idea that complete missiles, with their huge thrusters, had been secretly shipped.”
  7. “The missile intelligence also suggests far deeper military — and perhaps nuclear — cooperation between North Korea and Iran than was previously known.”

PSI, Nuclear, North Korea, Iran


Gordon, Michael and Lehren, Andrew, “U.S. Strains to Stop Arms Flow” 6 December 2010, NYT Last Checked 12 December 2010.

  1. “Just a week after President Bashar al-Assad of Syria  assured a top State Department official that his government was not sending sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah, the Obama administration lodged a confidential protest accusing Syria of doing precisely what it had denied doing.”
  2. “Wielding surveillance photos and sales contracts, American diplomats have confronted foreign governments about shadowy front companies, secretive banks and shippers around the globe.”
  3. “American officials have tried to block a Serbian black marketer from selling sniper rifles to Yemen. They have sought to disrupt the sale of Chinese missile technology to Pakistan, the cables show, and questioned Indian officials about chemical industry exports that could be used to make poison gas.”
  4. “American diplomats have repeatedly expressed concern that huge cargo planes operated by Badr Airlines of Sudan were flying weapons from Tehran to Khartoum, Sudan, where they were shipped to Hamas, the militant group in Gaza.”
  5. “Sudan insisted that the cargo was farm equipment, but the United States asked countries in the region to deny overflight rights to the airlines. Jordan and several other countries agreed, but Yemen declined.”
  6. “Iran not only was providing $25 million a month to support Hamas but also was linked to a Hezbollah cell trying to smuggle arms from Gaza into Egypt.”
  7. “North Korea has abetted the arms race in the Middle East by providing missile technology to Iran and Syria, which then backed Hamas and Hezbollah.”
  8. “North Korea’s arms industry has conducted many of its transactions through the Korea Mining and Development Corporation, relied on suppliers of machinery and steel from countries including Switzerland, Japan, China and Taiwan, passed money through Chinese and Hong Kong banks and sold weapons to other countries.”
  9. “The newly fortified Hezbollah has raised fears that any future conflict with Israel could erupt into a full-scale regional war.”
  10. “To disrupt the transactions, American officials have prodded and protested. Diplomats raised questions in the spring of 2009, for example, about planned purchases from North Korea of rocket launchers by Sri Lanka and Scud missile launchers by Yemen.”
  11. “The Syrian episode offers a glimpse of the United States’ efforts to prevent buildups of arms — including Scud missiles, Soviet-era tanks and antiaircraft weapons — in some of the world’s tensest regions.”

PSI, U.S. Foreign Policy, Israel, North Korea, China, Iran







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