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How Iran’s nuclear programme was delayed

16 January 2011

6:52 PM

16 January 2011

6:52 PM

Iran’s nuclear programme is the most likely source of a major global conflict. So it is highly significant that the outgoing head of Mossad recently told the Israeli parliament that technical problems meant that Iran might not be able to make a bomb until 2015.

These technical problems have, as a riveting piece in the New York Times explains, being caused by a computer virus. The stuxnet (correction) virus is in wide global circulation but it only kicks in when it spots the pattern that is used for centrifuges making highly-enriched uranium. When it does, it makes the centrifuges spin so fast that they destroy themselves. This virus appears to be a joint production of the Israeli, American and British secret services.

If an Iranian bomb is further away, the likelihood of an Israeli strike recedes. In Washington, they have long hoped that they could delay the Iranian programme long enough that the current regime would fall before the country became a nuclear threat. That goal seems a lot more realistic today than it has done previously.


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