The room is still as technicians, scientists and inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency begin collectively shaking their heads.
Staring at computer screens, data spread sheets and internal reports; the mood in the room is one of confusion and apprehension. The camera zooms in on one man holding a report. Grim fear radiates from his face when the camera angle suddenly shifts exposing a paragraph of the report he is holding:
“January 2010; the centrifuges used to enrich uranium gas at the Natanz plant in Iran are failing at an unprecedented rate. The result of these failures will set the Iranian enrichment program back at least one year, possibly more.”
I can see that scene opening a movie about the mysterious computer malfunctions which were plaguing the Iranian nuclear program. Before there was any mention of an international “deal with Iran,” lifting the economic sanctions (which caused a deep chasm in the U.S. political community) or the re-elections of both Presidents Obama and Ahmadinejad, something had happened setting Iran’s hope for nuclear weaponry back years.
Five months after that assemblage of experts, a computer security firm in Belarus, was hired by the Iranians to look into other mysterious computer problems. Sporadic crashing of systems and spontaneous rebooting of programs seemed to be vexing their entire computer network.
A handful of malicious files were found and the world’s first digital weapon, subsequently named Stuxnet, was identified. Stuxnet is a computer worm that targets industrial control systems used to monitor and control large scale industrial facilities like power plants, dams, waste processing systems and similar operations.
This is really scary stuff!
Rumors still abound as to who actually created and unleashed Stuxnet. Most of them zero in on Israel and the United States.
On June 1, 2012, an article in The New York Times said that Stuxnet is part of a U.S. and Israeli intelligence operation called Operation Olympic Games, started under President George W. Bush and expanded under President Barack Obama.
I think there are two messages contained in the Stuxnet facts and factoids with importance to this campaign season.
First: President Obama, a Democrat, recognized that a program conceived and implemented by President Bush, a Republican, had merit and continued to work with Israel for the good of the country.
Second: While it is pretty well acknowledged that our president and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu don’t much care for each other, nonetheless, they are able to put aside their differences when the well being of their nation is in jeopardy.
We all know that political races can be brutal but this race for president seems to be exceedingly divisive. Our country is facing really serious problems. I wish both parties would take note of the messages contained in the Stuxnet story. Cooperation between the parties and with other nations is essential for addressing the very complex problems of our times.
Come on – get it together to work together!