The Stuxnet malware apparently was designed to damage or destroy industrial system controllers of the type used in Iran’s nuclear program.
It is too early to assess what, if any, damage has taken place in Iran because of the secrecy of the Iranian regime. Based on the delay of the opening of the Bushehr nuclear reactor, it appears that Stuxnet at a minimum has slowed down the Iranian nuclear program, because of real or perceived damage.
There is emerging, however, real human damage caused by Stuxnet. The Iranian regime has turned on its own scientific community, announcing an unspecified number of arrests in an attempt to find those responsible for introducing Stuxnet into seemingly secure computer systems. DEBKAFile, which is not always reliable but has been ahead of the curve on this issue, also is reporting that in response to the Iranian crackdown some Russian nuclear support personnel have been leaving Iran.
In addition to whatever real damage Stuxnet may have on computer systems, the malware may create a mini-purge in Iranian scientific ranks which, much like Stalin’s paranoid purge of the Soviet military in the 1930s, is self-defeating.
When the Iranians see a room full of Iranian and Russian scientists sitting at computer terminals, the Iranians now see a room full of potential spies.
Stuxnet has made the jump from computers to humans, so expect to see the Iranians start to consume their own.
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