President New York Times.ordered a secret wave of sophisticated computer attacks on Iranian nuclear enrichment facilities, according to the
The New York Times reported that the so-called Stuxnet worm, which is said to have caused widespread damage to Iran's main nuclear enrichment facilities, was first developed during the Bush administration and continued under Obama's instructions.
According to the Times, the first cyber attacks designed to damage Iranian installations were developed under a program codenamed "Olympic Games." When Obama took office, he accelerated the attacks until the summer of 2010, when Stuxnet escaped Iran's Natanz plant and spread worldwide.
Days later, Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and then Central Intelligence Directorheld a tense meeting in the White House situation room to consider ending the program.
“Should we shut this thing down?” Obama was quoted as asking those gathered. His advisers ultimately agreed that it was unclear how much the Iranians knew about the program, which they still considered a success, so Obama decided to continue using the worm, according to the report.
The report came days after a larger and more destructive program nicknamed "Flame" was discovered on computers in Iran and parts of the Middle East, including in the occupied West Bank and Israel.
As for Flame, however, the newspaper said American officials did not acknowledge any role in its development. They say it was not part of "Olympic Games," and is at least five years old.
The Times described its disclosures of Obama's actions as significant because the U.S. does not admit to using cyber weapons and only recently acknowledged developing them.
Stuxnet's use against Iran's infrastructure would be the first successful use of a computer code to accomplish what had been in the past achieved by bombings, it said, adding that Obama was "acutely aware" that the attack was pushing the U.S. into new territory, such as his predecessors' use of atomic weapons.
"He repeatedly expressed concerns that any American acknowledgment that it was using cyberweapons -- even under the most careful and limited circumstances -- could enable other countries, terrorists or hackers to justify their own attacks," the report claimed.