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Status Brief

Developmental Milestones/Developments to Date:

Current Assessment/State of the Field:




Associated Press, “Spy Probe nabs Md. Scientist: Researcher has worked at Goddard, Elsewhere,Baltimore Sun, 6, October 20, 2009.

  1. “A scientist who worked for the Defense Department, a White House space council and other agencies was arrested Monday on charges of passing along classified information to an FBI agent posing as an Israeli intelligence officer.”
  2. ‘Stewart David Nozette,  52, of Chevy Chase was charged in a criminal complaint with attempting to communicate, deliver and transmit classified information, the Justice Department said.”
  3. “At Energy, Nozette held a special security clearance equivalent to the Defense Department’s top secret and ‘critical nuclear weapon design information’ clearances.”
  4. “an unnamed colleague of Nozette who said the scientists told him taht if the U.S. governemnt ever tried to put him in jail for an unrealted criminal offense, he would go to Israel or another country and ‘tell them everything’ he knows.”

Law Enforcement, Classified, Israel


Wilber, Del Quentin, “Scientist accused of espionage to remain in jail, judge decides;
Authorities detail Md. man’s access to U.S. secrets”, online October 21, 2009.

  1. “A federal judge ordered that a Chevy Chase scientist remain jailed on a charge that he tried to pass national secrets to the Israeli government in exchange for $11,000.”
  2. “Stewart D. Nozette, 52, was arrested Monday afternoon on a charge of attempted espionage after authorities accused him of passing classified information to an undercover FBI agent posing as an Israeli intelligence operative. U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson ordered Nozette detained until a preliminary hearing Oct. 29.”
  3. “The scientist held security clearances as high as top secret and had access to classified material as recently as 2006, authorities said.”
  4. “In early September, an FBI agent posing as an Israeli intelligence officer called Nozette, and the scientist said he would be willing to work as a spy, authorities said. Over the next few weeks, the agent paid $11,000 in cash, left in two installments in a post office box in the District. Nozette took the cash and questions left by the FBI agent, authorities alleged.”
  5. “He returned, the FBI said, with envelopes containing classified information he recalled handling. That included details about U.S. satellites, early warning systems and defense strategy, the FBI wrote in court papers.”

Israel, Law Enforcement


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


Editors, “War in the fifth domain”, 3 July 2010 Economist Last checked March 8, 2011.

  1. “After land, sea, air and space, warfare has entered the fifth domain: cyberspace.”
  2. “Mandate is to conduct ‘“full-spectrum”’ operations—to defend American military networks and attack other countries’ systems.”
  3. “Britain, too, has set up a cyber-security policy outfit, and an “operations centre” based in GCHQ, the British equivalent of the NSA.”
  4. “Many other countries are organizing for cyberwar, among them Russia, Israel, and North Korea.”
  5. “Cyber-security, envisages a catastrophic breakdown within 15 minutes.”
  6. “The effects of full-blown cyberwar are much like nuclear attack.”
  7. “Growing dependence on computers increases the harm they can cause.”
  8. “Weakly governed swathes of Africa are being connected up to fibre-optic cables, potentially creating new havens for cyber-criminals.”
  9. “Mr Obama has quoted a figure of $1 trillion lost last year to cybercrime–a bigger underworld than the drugs trade…”
  10. “The ostentatious hackers and virus-writers who once wrecked computers for fun are all but gone, replaced by criminal gangs seeking to harvest data.”
  11. ‘“given enough time, motivation and funding, a determined adversary will always–always–be able to penetrate a targeted system.”’
  12. “China,… wholesale espionage, attacking the computers of… Western defence contractors … taking classified details of the F-35 fighter, …”
  13. “Western spooks think China deploys the most assiduous, and most shameless, cyberspies, but Russian ones are probably more skilled and subtle.”
  14. “Deterrence in cyber-warfare is more uncertain than, say, in nuclear strategy: there is no mutually assured destruction, the dividing line between criminality and war is blurred…”

Cybersecurity, China, Africa, Russia, North Korea, Israel


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


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


Hersh, Seymour M., “The Online Threat”, New Yorker. 1 November 2010  Last Checked March 9, 2011.

  1. “If China had reverse-engineered the EP-3E’s operating system, all such systems in the Navy would have to be replaced, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.”
  2. “The Chinese penetration as a warning about present and future vulnerabilities–…that China, or some other nation, could use… cyber skills to attack America’s civilian infrastructure and military complex.”
  3. “After years of planning, the U.S. Cyber Command was officially activated, and took operational control of disparate cyber-security and attack units… among the four military services.”
  4. “Its commander, Army General Keith Alexander… wants more access to e-mail, social networks, and internet to protect America and fight in… a new warfare domain—cyberspace.”
  5. “President Obama, who has publicly pledged that his Administration will protect openness and privacy on the Internet, will have to make choices that will have enormous consequences for the future…”
  6. “Will cyber security be treated as a kind of war?”
  7. ‘“Cyber war” was emerging as one of the nation’s most widely publicized national-security concerns.”
  8. “The federal government currently spends between six and seven billion dollars annually for unclassified cyber-security work, and, it is estimated, an equal amount on the classified portion.”
  9. “Fourteen million dollars to build a bunker for the Pentagon’s new Cyber Command.”
  10. “Cyber espionage is… capturing e-mail traffic, text messages, other electronic communications, and corporate data for the purpose of gathering national-security or commercial intelligence.”
  11. “Cyber war involves the penetration of foreign networks for the purpose of disrupting or dismantling those networks, and making them inoperable.”
  12. “Blurring the distinction between cyber war and cyber espionage has been profitable for defense contractors–and dispiriting for privacy advocates.”
  13. “The most common cyber-war scare scenarios involve America’s electrical grid.”
  14. “Many long-standing allies of the United States have been deeply engaged in cyber espionage for decades.”
  15. “A retired four-star Navy admiral, who spent much of his career in signals intelligence, said that Russia, France, Israel, and Taiwan conduct the most cyber espionage against the U.S. …”

Cybersecurity, Military, China, Russia, France, Israel


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


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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