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Obama continued, accelerated use of Bush-era Stuxnet computer attacks on Iran

 

Since taking office, President Obama has ordered attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, expanding the United States' use of cyber weapons, according to the New York Times.

Participants in the Stuxnet program told the newspaper it significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyber weapons and that the attacks began during the Bush administration under the code name Olympic Games.

The attacks continued and even accelerated after an element of the program accidentally became public in 2010 as a result of a programming error that allowed it to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and sent it around the world on the Internet.

The Times story also details a tense meeting in the White House Situation Room within days of the worm’s “escape,” in which Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency at the time, Leon E. Panetta, considered whether America’s most ambitious attempt to slow the progress of Iran’s nuclear efforts had been fatally compromised.

“Should we shut this thing down?” Mr. Obama asked, according to members of the president’s national security team who were in the room.

However, the president decided that the cyber attacks should proceed. The attacks temporarily took out nearly 1,000 of the 5,000 centrifuges Iran had spinning at the time to purify uranium.

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