Fugitive American whistleblower Edward Snowden has charged that the Stuxnet virus, known for sabotaging Iranian computers linked to the country’s nuclear program, was the byproduct of an American and Israeli spy agency project.
In a interview with Der Spiegel, a German weekly, published Sunday, the former NSA contractor said the US spy agency and Israel cooperate on security matters through a branch of the organization known as the Foreign Affairs Directorate.
Snowden told the newsmagazine that the coordination between the countries was organized so that foreign authorities could “insulate their political leaders from the backlash” in case “how grievously they’re violating global privacy” becomes public knowledge.
When asked whether the NSA helped write the Stuxnet program, Snowden said “the NSA and Israel wrote Stuxnet together.”
Stuxnet made international headlines in 2010 when it wrought havoc on equipment at Iran’s Natanz nuclear plant and complicated the manufacture of highly enriched uranium, which the West suspects is intended for making atomic weapons. Stuxnet temporarily disabled 1,000 centrifuges that the Iranians were using to enrich uranium.
Iran claims the Stuxnet virus was part of a campaign against its nuclear program by Western states.
In 2012, New York Times reporter David Sanger wrote that Stuxnet was part of a Bush-era joint Us and Israeli program, codenamed Olympic Games, designed to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program.
The report claimed the attacks against Iran’s nuclear program were ordered sped up by US President Barack Obama.
Neither Jerusalem or Washington have never acknowledged any connection to the virus or others like it that have struck Iran.
However, according to a report in semi-official Iranian Fars news agency, “US intelligence officials revealed in April 2012 that the Stuxnet malware was not only designed to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program, but was part of a wider campaign directed from Israel that included the assassination of the country’s nuclear scientists.”