October 17th, 2011
10:29 PM ET

Sanctions and Stuxnet hurting Iran's nuclear ambitions

By Adam Levine and Pam Benson

Iran's Natanz facility

Iran's efforts to develop its nuclear program have been stymied by a slew of challenges from international sanctions and set back by the 2010 Stuxnet cyber attack, two new reports from a Washington nuclear think tank conclude.

The report by former weapons inspector David Albright's Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS)  says Iran has been forced to use inferior parts and weaker metals, according to officials the group has spoken to at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) because sanctions have limited access to needed materials.

"Ten years after the start of construction at the Natanz enrichment site, the probability that Iran will build tens of thousands of centrifuges seems remote based on their faulty performance," one of the reports notes. "Even with advanced centrifuges, Iran may be blocked by sanctions from building advanced centrifuges in large enough numbers."

The Natanz enrichment site was crippled when a computer virus attacked a portion of the centrifuges. But the ISIS report notes enrichment numbers have rebounded to a higher level than before Stuxnet, after a brief dip. But the IAEA noted in recent reports that not all the centrifuges are necessarily enriching. Albright's report says that the Stuxnet worm may have decreased the lifespan of aging centrifuges, even if they were not broken right away, by forcing them to spin at altered speeds.However, despite the challenges, based on ISIS assessment of Iran's production of enriched uranium, the report concludes the Iranians have more than enough for the stated goal of providing for its research reactor and appears on a trajectory "to producing weapons-grade uranium for nuclear weapons."

and appears on a trajectory "to producing weapons-grade uranium for nuclear weapons."

Read the reports:

Iran's Advanced Centrifuges

Performance of the IR-1 Centrifuge at Natanz

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Filed under: Iran • Nuclear • Sanctions • Stuxnet • Think tank
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  12. Matt

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  13. Esther Haman

    Stuxnet was designed to attack computer control systems made by German industrial giant Siemens and commonly used to manage water supplies, oil rigs, power plants and other critical infrastructure. Iran has upgraded its LEU production and the mount has increased steadily as UN and IAEA has reported. Currently they are processing up to %20 purity, which requires faster and more accurate equipment. Their LEU is still under the control of the IAEA inspectors and no smoking guns have ever been found during the last 15 years.

    Get real.

    October 19, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Reply
  14. don

    Its kinda an unspoken common knowledge that NSA/CIA engineered Stuxnet or hired whoever did...and cleverly had it introduced to Iran's nuke control computers...basically causing their fuel centrifuges to spin too fast and ruin years of work to produce a nuke weapon. So what.

    October 18, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Reply
  15. Andrew

    It's real, and it's sorta scary. No one knows where it came from or who made it.

    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/07/how-digital-detectives-deciphered-stuxnet/all/1

    October 18, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Reply
  16. Esther Haman

    Lets say that there is such a thing as "Stuxnet" and it would work on the Russian designed computer and Nuclear plants facilities etc. So, why we did not use it on North Koria, Pakistan etc?

    Get real

    October 18, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Reply
    • Andrew

      It's real, and it's sorta scary. No one knows where it came from or who made it.

      http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/07/how-digital-detectives-deciphered-stuxnet/all/1

      October 18, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Reply
      • Esther Haman

        So, its real because you have first hand experience with it! It is scary because it scared you! But it you do not answer my question. The web site and the article like any another! So?!

        October 19, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Teddy Roosevelt

      Esther you speak in ignorance of the very specific nature of this virus. It was designed to attack the Iranian facilities in a very specific way. Your statement bares the assumption that those that executed Stuxnet against the Iranian plant 1) have any interest in disabling Korean or Russian nuke programs (what about Israel?). 2) That the makers of Stuxnet have as good or better understanding of the supporting infrastructure, autonomy, and most importantly the software that runs Russian or Korean nuke plants. 3) Have the means to introduce the virus to Russian or Korean nuke plants.

      October 19, 2011 at 2:30 am | Reply
      • Esther Haman

        If you are this gullible that can bee fooled so easy, then being called "ignorant" by you is something I can be proud of. You are saying we have no interest in North Korean Nuclear facilities!? Or the Pakistanis ?! So, this was just to show Iran we can infect their facilities with a worm/virus which then they can replace the equipment with a new one and everything be OK? Sorta like HA HA HA..NANANANAH.!! That is the extent of our genius!!?

        Get real.

        October 19, 2011 at 4:09 pm |

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