4-3: On Olympic Games and IR-2 Centrifuges

In Chapter 8, I was surprised to read that President Bush considered the cyber-attack his “third option.” Sanger reports that prior to the transfer of power to Obama in 2009, Bush said “the program could mean the difference between peace and war with Iran.” I find this extremely curious, considering the class responses to the Learning Analytics question on cyberwar from week one; we were very divided on the idea of its severity. While “Olympic Games” was intended to remain a secret, we should on one hand ponder difference between Bush’s peace accompanied by cyberwar and, on the other hand, a war with Iran. The peace is clearly preferable; however, it is fascinating to see how Bush and his advisors obviously felt Olympic Games was on a different plane than traditional aggression. The Obama administration agreed, indicated by going through with the plan.

ir2-isis

Another interesting item is the very recently reported installation of the new Iranian Centrifuges at Natanz. In addition to the IR-2s, which spin twice as fast as the older version, Iran is adding 2,255 of the older models. In his February 21 article, Sanger implicitly poses an important question: Why install the centrifuges at Natanz, considering it is vulnerable to air strikes as well as a recent victim of “alleged” cyber-attacks? Did Stuxnet do more damage than previously thought? One participant in the Olympic Games program used the following argument for their methods: “We told the Israelis that if you bomb Natanz, it will take the Iranians two years to replace it-but they will do so deep underground; you won’t be able to get it the next time, and you’ll make them want the bomb even more.” Do cyber-attacks have a similar result? With only days to go before international nuclear talks, is Iran upgrading this facility in a defiant response Stuxnet? Does the improved equipment showing they want the bomb (or the capability to produce one quickly) even more now?

While a recent IAEA report shows that Iran has slowed production of Uranium that can be used for weapons, there is only 73kg to go until the Israeli established “red line.” Iran is projected to reach this level early this fall. Even with continued sabotage, interference, new diplomatic initiatives, and sanctions, how much more time can we buy? — Daniel