Israeli intelligence services are trying to sabotage Iran’s military and nuclear programs through tainted equipment and cyber attacks, a recent report says.
Israeli officials, weary of Iran’s achievements in the nuclear field, have turned to cyber attacks to halt the country’s development, Israeli sources told Reuters on Tuesday.
The appeal of such a method was heightened after officials in Washington made clear that they are not willing to support an attack on key Iranian nuclear facilities.
"We came to the conclusion that, for our purposes, a key Iranian vulnerability is in its on-line information," a recently retired Israeli security cabinet member said, using a generic term for digital networks. "We have acted accordingly."
The report, quoting an unnamed Israeli source, says the attacks may also allow Israel’s intelligence agencies to do more than just acquiring classified information.
"Aside from accessing secret data, we could also set off deliberate explosions, just by programming a re-route of the pipelines," the Shin Bet veteran said.
Another method of sabotage mentioned in the report was the use of malware — a commonly used abbreviation for ‘malicious software’ — to "corrupt, commandeer or crash the controls of sensitive sites like uranium enrichment plants".
As Iran’s nuclear assets would probably be isolated from outside computers, Israeli agents would have to conceal the malware in software used by the Iranians or discreetly plant it on portable hardware brought in, unknowingly, by technicians.
Last year, Iran arrested 45-year-old Ali Ashtari on charges of relaying sensitive information on military, defense and research centers to intelligence officers working for the infamous Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad.
In a video recorded and later broadcast by IRIB, Ashtari confessed that Mossad had paid him $50,000 to buy internet cables and satellite phones and then sell them on to ‘special customers’ in the hope of enabling Israel to spy on their communications.
Israeli ‘handlers,’ whom Ashtari said he met in Thailand, Turkey and Switzerland, allegedly wanted him "to sell these terminals in Iran to special customers so they could hack into this equipment".