'Dutch got Stuxnet into Iran since they raise less suspicion than Israel'

The Stuxnet virus destroyed some 2,000 centrifuges between 2008 and 2010, significantly delaying Iran’s uranium enrichment plans.

By
September 5, 2019 23:18
2 minute read.
A Ghadr 1 class Shahab 3 long range missile is prepared for launch during a test from an unknown loc

A Ghadr 1 class Shahab 3 long range missile is prepared for launch during a test from an unknown location in central Iran. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The Netherlands’ intelligence agency likely infiltrated a mole into Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility and infected it with the Stuxnet virus because the Netherlands – unlike Israel and the US – raises less suspicion in the Islamic Republic, according to former intelligence officers.

On Monday, Yahoo News reported that an Iranian mole recruited by the General Intelligence and Security Service – abbreviated to “the AIVD” in Dutch – was the US and Israel’s key to installing the Stuxnet cyber virus in Iran's nuclear centrifuges at Natanz.

That worm corrupted some 2,000 centrifuges between 2008 and 2010, significantly delaying Iran’s uranium enrichment plans.

Experts say that this delay pressured Tehran to negotiate with the world superpowers in talks that led to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

The report quoted multiple sources saying that the courier behind the infiltration into Natanz – whose role was previously unreported – was a mole recruited by Dutch intelligence agents at the behest of the CIA and the Mossad.

How did Dutch intelligence succeed where the Mossad and the CIA reportedly failed?

One source said that the Mossad and Dutch intelligence are both pro-active in their strategies.

To back this up, the source noted that while ISIS has succeeded in carrying out terrorist attacks across Europe, the Islamist group has failed to do so in the Netherlands. Dutch intelligence does not wait for you to come to them, said the source, but seeks out relevant intelligence partners in other countries to help uncover potential plots.

Another source said that if you convince AIVD agents that it is worth it for them to provide access to one of their intelligence assets, then they move forward full throttle – while demanding a hefty price.

Despite the Netherlands being a small nation of 17 million, Dutch intelligence is a high-level player in EU affairs. The AIVD is occasionally in the news, although it is not as prominent as other Western intelligence agencies. For example, the revelation that Russia hacked Hilary Clinton’s campaign in 2016 was made by Dutch intelligence.

One way that the AIVD might have succeeded in infiltrating Iran’s nuclear program where the CIA and the Mossad have not is their anonymity, a source said.

Another former official implied that someone with a connection to the Netherlands, disregarding their ethnicity, was less likely to raise suspicion than someone from the US or Israel.

People eventually miss something, and that is when there is room to break into an otherwise fool-proof system, according to one source.

Interestingly, what Yahoo News reported on Monday was apparently not the full story. The Dutch journalist involved in the story, Huib Modderkolk, was prevented by a Netherlands court decision in July from publishing large portions of classified material he had gathered. The court mostly agreed with the government that some of Modderkolk’s disclosures could endanger lives.

Accordingly, portions of his book had to be scrapped before it went to print this week.


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