Despite Iranian claims in October that their nuclear systems were cleansed of the Stuxnet virus, debkafile's intelligence and Iranian sources confirm that the invasive malworm is still making trouble. It shut down uranium enrichment at Natanz for a week from Nov. 16 to 22 over breakdowns caused by mysterious power fluctuations in the operation of the centrifuge machines enriching uranium at Natanz.
The shutdown was reported by the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency Yukiya Amano to the IAEA board in Vienna on Tuesday, Nov. 23.
Rapid changes in the spinning speed of the thousands of centrifuges enriching uranium to weapons-grade can cause them to blow apart suddenly without the monitors detecting any malfunction. The Iranian operators first tried replacing the P1 and P2 centrifuges used at Natanz with the more advanced IR1 type, but got the same effect. They finally decided to shut the plant down until computer security experts purged it of the malworm.
But then, when work was resumed Monday, about 5,000 of the 8,000 machines were found to be out of commission and the remaining 2,500-3,000 partially on the blink.
Tuesday, Ali Akbar Salehi, Director of Iran's Nuclear Energy Commission tried to put a good face on the disaster. "Fortunately the nuclear Stuxnet virus has faced a dead end," he said. However, the IAEA report and Western intelligence confirm that the virus has gathered itself for a fresh onslaught on Iran's vital facilities.
According to an exclusive report reaching debkafile, Stuxnet is also in the process of raiding Iran's military systems, sowing damage and disorder in its wake.
On Nov. 17, in the middle of a massive air defense exercise, Iranian military sources reported six foreign aircraft had intruded the airspace over the practice sites and were put to flight by Iranian fighters. The next day, a different set of military sources claimed a misunderstanding; there had been no intrusions. Iranian fighters had simulated an enemy raid which too had been repulsed.
debkafile's military sources disclose there was no "misunderstanding." The foreign intruders had shown up on the exercise's radar screens, but when the fighter jets scrambled to intercept them, they found empty sky, meaning the radar instruments had lied.
The military command accordingly decided to give up on using the exercise as a stage for unveiling new and highly sophisticated weaponry, including a homemade radar system, for fear that they too may have been infected by the ubiquitous Stuxnet worm.