Fugitive US surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden says the United States and Israel created the Stuxnet computer virus to sabotage Iran’s nuclear energy program.
In an interview with the German weekly Der Spiegel published on Monday, Snowden, who has been holed up in a Moscow airport since June, said the US National Security Agency (NSA) and Israel “co-wrote” the malware to infiltrate Iran’s nuclear facility networks in 2009 and 2010.
The whistleblower said that the virus was used to change the speed of thousands of gas-spinning centrifuges.
Snowden said that the NSA has a “massive body” called the Foreign Affairs Directorate, through which it cooperates with other entities like Israel on security matters.
Earlier in March, a research by a group of independent legal experts at the request of NATO described the cyber attacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities as an “act of force.”
“Acts that kill or injure persons or destroy or damage objects are unambiguously uses of force” and likely violate international law, the research said.
Iranian experts detected and neutralized the malware in time, averting any extensive damage to the country’s industrial sites and resources.
In June 2012, The New York Times revealed that US President Barack Obama had secretly ordered the cyber attack with the Stuxnet computer virus.
In addition, a report published by the Washington Post in the same month said that the US and Israel had jointly created the computer virus Flame — a Stuxnet-like espionage malware — to spy on Iran.
The United States, Israel, and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program and have used the unfounded accusation as a pretext to impose illegal sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Iran rejects the allegations, arguing that as a committed signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
In addition, the IAEA has conducted numerous inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities but has never found any evidence showing that Iran’s civilian nuclear program has been diverted to nuclear weapons production.
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