Germany will create a new cyber-warfare defense center next year to fight off espionage attacks, the German interior ministry said.

We plan to create a so-called 'National Cyber-Defense Center' in 2011, a spokesman told reporters on Monday. It will work by bundling existing know-how in the area of cyber defense.

As computer systems become more important to control essential services, from power grids to banking, computerized attacks are seen as becoming as important a part of nations' arsenals as conventional or nuclear weaponry.

Britain announced a 650-million-pound ($1 billion) program last month, labeling cyber security a key priority despite broad cuts to government spending, including on defense.

Several Western security experts believe one computer worm, known as Stuxnet, may have been created by a national counterterrorism authority intent on crippling Iran's nuclear program by sabotaging the industrial control system at its atomic energy plant in Bushehr.

(Reporting by Rene Wagner and Christiaan Hetzner)