Stuxnet sibling theory surges after Iran says nuke facility shut down by electrical fault

Iran has admitted that one of its nuclear facilities went offline over the weekend, and a single report claiming Israeli cyber-weapons were the cause has been widely accepted as a credible explanation for the incident.

Iran on Sunday published this announcement that said an “accident” impacted the “electricity distribution network” at its Natanz enrichment facility.

The facility was inaugurated the previous day, and is thought to have the capability to enrich Uranium and to represent capacity for uses prohibited under the US/Iran nuclear deal. The Trump administration tore up that deal, but the Biden administration hoped to revisit the pact.

Iranian officials have said that whatever hit Natanz was an act of “nuclear terrorism”. The Register can find no indication that any radioactive material has been exposed.

Few nations like the idea of Iran enhancing its nuclear capabilities, but Israel is implacably opposed to the idea. In 1981 Israel bombed a nuclear plant in the early stages of construction in Iraq and is thought to have collaborated on the Stuxnet worm, discovered in 2010, that eventually damaged centrifuges used to refine nuclear materials at Iran’s Natanz.

Iranian contractor named as Stuxnet ‘patient zero’

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Not long after the news of this weekend’s electrical incident, the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation reported that intelligence sources had told its reporters the accident was in fact a cyber-attack. The corporation is an independent public broadcaster.

But the say-so of just one of the corporation’s shows is all the evidence that Israel had any hand in the attack. While Israel does not comment on such matters officially, Israeli politicians have claimed that Natanz was more badly damaged than Iran is letting on. And now the New York Times reports the event was a “detonation of explosives.”

Iran says it is investigating the cause of the incident and will announce its findings in due course. ®

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