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PJM Exclusive: Stuxnet Has Completely Paralyzed Iran’s Bushehr Plant

Iran may even have to junk it and start from scratch.

by
'Reza Kahlili'

Bio

April 26, 2011 - 12:00 am

Contrary to the claim made by the Iranian Center for Non-Military Preemptive Defense, the Stuxnet virus has disabled Iran’s nuclear centers.

Contrary to the claims made by Gholam-Reza Jalali — director of the Iranian Center for Non-Military Preemptive Defense — regarding the nature of the virus and Iran’s capabilities in dealing with the fallout, Stuxnet has wreaked serious and perhaps fatal havoc on the foundations of energy structure and the operating systems of the Bushehr nuclear installation. According to the Green Liaison news group, over the past year and a half the Bushehr plant has incurred serious damage and has lost major capabilities.

An individual involved in Iran’s nuclear activities reports that this virus was placed in the system by one of the foreign experts contracted to Iran. The virus has automatic updating capabilities in order to track and pirate information, and can also destroy the system hardware step-by-step. The internal directives programmed into the structure of the virus can actually bring the generators and electrical power grids of the country to a sudden halt, or create a “heart attack” type of work stoppage.

According to reports from within the IRGC — in cooperation with the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence organization and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology — the Iranian Center for Non-Military Preemptive Defense has set up two computer task forces titled GOWHAR and MAAHER. The two organizations are said to have spent the last year and a half investigating the extent of the damage, however due to the complexity of the virus they have not been successful with a fix.

The Iranian Center for Non-Military Preemptive Defense is said to be actively seeking out experts in the fields of electrical and mechanical engineering, information technology, and artificial intelligence in order to analyze the virus. Switzerland — which has maintained friendly relations with Tehran’s regime — is said to be cooperating, and has experts covertly in contact with the Iranian security forces.

As such, the Iranian Center for Non-Military Preemptive Defense is attempting to produce software and an operating system which will provide immunity and security against cyber attacks, and which can withstand all damages incurred by viruses. However, all claims as to the actual production of these active national systems by the security authorities are said to be a bluff — nothing more than a pretense to mask the complexity of the virus and ultimately Tehran’s lack of engineering expertise in this area.

The Revolutionary Guards have confirmed that the Iranian Center for Non-Military Preemptive Defense was created with the cooperation of the Ministry of Defense, which conducted a study and coordinated among 77 companies in Iran. Each of the companies is involved in the field of information technology and production, and each has been called upon to make a formal presentation of their products to Iranian authorities. Though there have been major setbacks and delays, Iran is said to be relying on only Iranian experts in this matter.

Due to the extra attention on the industrial sectors of the country, all of which are stationed in southern Iran, the danger for the virus to strike other parallel industrial systems that are related to the energy sector is entirely possible.

Given the fact that Kraftwerk Union (KWU) — a subsidiary company of Siemens — and other Russian companies such as Atom Stroi Export have not responded, the Iranian regime authorities are said to be actively seeking the supreme leader’s blessing to create an alternative power station other than Bushehr. Iranian authorities had not imagined that the work stoppage created by the virus would be so extensive. And last week, the Iranian parliamentary committee stated that the Islamic Republic would probably have been better off building a new nuclear power plant from scratch instead of constantly trying to finish the decades-old Bushehr.

Bushehr was supposed to join the power grid last year, but in March the fuel was removed from the reactor due to technical difficulties. The Russian contractors building Bushehr announced on April 8 that refueling of the nuclear plant was once more underway. The head of the plant had confirmed that all necessary inspections have been carried out to complete satisfaction, and that the plant is ready for the fuel to be transferred into the heart of the reactor.

(Also see: Iran announces discovery of new cyber attack.)

Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the author of the award winning book, A Time to Betray. He serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and the advisory board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI).
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