The New York Times came up with an in-depth report Friday saying that from the very first month Barack Obama took over as US President, he secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on Iran's computer systems that run the country's main nuclear enrichment facilities.
Code-named Olympic Games, the attacks were spearheaded by the US government under the Bush administration. Stuxnet targeted Siemens industrial equipment to spin hundreds of centrifuges beyond their breaking points and eventually disable Iran's nuclear efforts.
According to the report, Obama decided to speed up the attacks, even after the worm accidentally escaped from Iran's Natanz plant in 2010 and later ended up on the Internet.
During a meeting following the worm's escape, Obama even considered that the worm should be stopped thinking that America's most ambitious attempt to slow the progress of Iran's nuclear efforts had been fatally compromised.
Should we shut this thing down? Obama asked members of the President's national security team.
However, he finally decided to go ahead with the cyber attacks after he was informed that the code was still causing havoc. What followed thereafter was the Natanz plant being hit by a newer version of the worm and the Stuxnet temporarily disabling nearly 1,000 of the 5,000 centrifuges.
The report is said to be based on 18 months of interviews with current and former American, European and Israeli officials involved in the program as well as with outside experts, who provided contradictory assessments of how successful the attack was in slowing down Iran's progress of developing nuclear weapons.
While internal Obama administration estimates said the effort was delayed by 18 months to two years, some other experts, both inside and outside the government, said that Iran's enrichment levels had steadily recovered. The country now has enough fuel for five or more weapons, with additional enrichment.
According to The Verge, despite the cyber attack on Iran, Obama has reportedly warned against using cyber weapons to target additional countries. The intelligence officials have revealed that the US has considered a lot more attacks than those that have taken place, the report has added.
Reports surfaced earlier this week about the discovery of a new highly sophisticated malicious program called Flame that has been used as a cyber weapon to collect private data from thousands of computers in Middle East countries like Iran and Israel. But as per the NY Times report, it's not part of Olympic Games as the computer code was apparently at least five years old.
For more insights into the history of the program and the thorough alliance with Israel, read a comprehensive report by The New York Times here.