Although the United States and Israel has not publicly acknowledged the covert war against Iran’s disputed nuclear program, in a sense, we are already at war with Iran.
On the other hand, it is understandable why Israel’s patience is wearing thin in the midst of security leaks and complicated loopholes on Iran sanctions regime.
For several years in a row, the mainstream media are rife with rumors, innuendos and speculation of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities, industrial-military complex sabotage and assassinations of nuclear scientists.
As a matter of strategic security policy, Israel neither denies nor confirm any offensive covert acts against Iran which repeatedly threaten to annihilate the Jewish state, .Essentially, Israel’s plausible deniability and ambiguity as the only nuclear power in the Middle East, is crucial to its survival as a nation.
While the world speculates as to the origin of the Flame virus found in Iranian computers, The New York Times confirmed that the US ordered a previous virus, Stuxnet, deployed against Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities in 2008.
Until quite recently, it is foolhardy to admit the security leaks emanating from the Obama White House in an election year is tragic and potentially damaging to the security of both the US and Israel.
‘Operation Olympic Games’
Recent reports indicated however, that the cyber war on Iran has only just begun is simply untrue.
Prior to his departure from the Oval Office, President G.W. Bush had urged President-elect Obama to preserve two highly classified intelligence programs code-named Operation Olympic Games and the drone program in Pakistan – of course, with the help of Israel to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program.
The computer worm project started during the Bush years and expanded under Obama was meant to cause Iranian centrifuges to self-destruct, thus pushing the US into a new era of cyber warfare.
The complex worm previously reported as Stuxnet is credited with “achieving, with computer code, what until then could be accomplished only by bombing a country or sending in agents to plant explosives.”
Michael Hayden, the former chief of the CIA, stated that “this is the first attack of a major nature in which a cyber attack was used to effect physical destruction rather than just slow another computer, or hack into it to steal data.”“Somebody crossed the Rubicon,” he said.
Indeed, US and Israel’s cyber warriors had reached the point of no return, when they created the most lethal cyber weapons of the future.
To set the record straight, the two allies partnering on cyber programs like Stuxnet, was an Israeli innovation, not an American one as recently reported. It was the brainchild of Israel’s military intelligence agency Aman and Unit 8-200 — Israel’s equivalent of the eavesdropping, code-breaking National Security Agency — and endorsed by the White House at Israel’s suggestion.
Another cyber weapon called Flame that was recently discovered to have attacked the computers of Iranian officials, sweeping up information from those machines was not part of Olympic Games. The US is also suspected of being behind the Flame virus, spyware able to record keystrokes, eavesdrop on conversations near an infected computer, and tap into screen images.
Besides Iran, Flame has been found in computers in the Palestinian West Bank, Lebanon, Hungary, Austria, Russia, Hong Kong, and the United Arab Emirates. Because malware seeks out undefended computers no matter where they are, it has a habit of spreading beyond its initial target.
With regards to Natanz enrichment plant, US and Israel have to rely on engineers, maintenance workers and others — both spies and unwitting accomplices — with physical access to the plant. “That was our holy grail,” one of the architects of the plan said.“It turns out there is always an idiot around who doesn’t think much about the thumb drive in their hand.”
In fact, thumb drives turned out to be critical in spreading the first variants of the computer worm; later, more sophisticated methods were developed to deliver the malicious code that left Iranians confused partly because no two attacks were exactly alike.
Repercussions of cyber attacks are alarming
In March 2007, researchers from the Department of Homeland Security who launched an experimental cyber attack dubbed “Aurora,” and conducted at the Department of Energy’s Idaho lab caused a generator to self-destruct, alarming the federal government and electrical industry about what might happen if such an attack were carried out on a larger scale, CNN has learned.
Watch the previously classified video of the test CNN obtained: Staged cyber attack reveals vulnerability in power grid.
Government sources said changes are being made to both computer software and physical hardware to protect power generating equipment. And the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it is conducting inspections to ensure all nuclear plants have made the fix.
In general, a major disruption in any country due to some form of worm, malware or malicious code could quickly incapacitate and destroy the electric power grid or compromise air traffic control system resulting in catastrophic deaths and destruction far more lethal than the September 11 attacks.
In lieu of conventional military attacks, cyber warfare at this stage of development and implementation of Olympic Games directed at Iran’s nuclear program is both a blessing and a curse – a necessary evil that may spell disaster to the aggressor and the defender, so to speak.
Moreover, the prospect of similar Iranian cyber attacks against the US, Israel and West is a foreboding thought. However, the success or failure of any cyber campaign depends entirely to whoever can marshal great resources and technological superiority.
A desperate Iranian regime more than likely would deploy thousands of Hezbollah, Hamas and Syrian missile attacks on Israel, Iranian naval and missile attacks on the US Fifth Fleet, the Gulf States oil shipments, platforms and mining the Strait of Hormuz – a red line which is tantamount to acts of war against the US and the West.
Furthermore, asymmetric warfare conducted via proxies Hezbollah, Hamas, Venezuela and Mexican drug cartels inside the US and surrounding Israel cannot be ignored or underestimated.
Besides, the targeted destruction of its military-industrial complex and nuclear facilities including the inner sanctum of the mullah-led regime would usher in peace and security in the Middle East.
What we do not know yet, is the outcome of the clandestine back-door diplomacy between the Muslim Brotherhood-led Team Obama and Iran’s clerical regime. Part and parcel of Obama’s re-election campaign strategy is to break down the Islamic republic’s isolation by enabling a deceptive diplomatic breakthrough of ending Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Once flawed sanctions and diplomacy fails, there is no doubt that the only viable option left short of war, is a nasty preemptive digital strikes against the Islamic republic.
If carpet-bombing Iran’s economy, diplomacy, negotiations and cyber attacks don’t work- make no mistake there is always and will be a military solution if Iran does not back down. In short, there will be an all-out war.