Rules of Engagement
Decades of ideological divisions of often left Iran isolated on the world stage now for straighted perceived as unpredictable global hostilities up escalating already difficult relationship between the U._S. and Iran has become even more tense view as President Donald Trump says Tehran quote basically careful but Iran has a warning of its own just days after President President trump announced that he called off military strikes on Iran only minutes to spare him a warning that Washington was not backing down Iran responded by breaching the limits placed on its nuclear activities either Iran nor any other hostile actor should mistake U._s.. Prudence for weakness. You're listening to through line from N._p._R.. Will be go back in time to understand the present. Hey I'm rounding eighteen up Louis. I'm Rhonda Duffy Staff and on this episode forty years of U._S.. Iran hostility if you heard our episode last week you know that the U._S. and Iran I became politically typically intertwined in nineteen fifty three. That's the year the U._S.. Helped overthrow the democratic prime minister of Iran Mohamend Macedo now fast forward twenty six years to nineteen seventy nine. The secular Shaw The U._S.. Put in place after the WHO in Nineteen fifty-three was suddenly facing a major crisis an Islamic revolution last seven days Tara and other cities Sabine violent clashes between troops and demonstrators bulging with rocks and homemade pestle bombs hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets inevitably. The result is massacre. The Shah was forced forced to flee Iran and a new leader a Muslim cleric name Ayatollah Khomeini many took power returns to country teetering on the brink of civil war. The ground chatted God his great race along with the motorcade trying behind to get a glimpse of the ayatollah and this begin a new era in U._S.. Iran relation in an obvious reference to the United States he said foreign advisors have ruined our culture and have taken our oil and so of course of a month's from one of America's allies to one of America's worst adversaries not long after the revolution Iran did something that solidified its new place as an American adversary. The American Embassy in Tehran is the hands of Moslem students tonight spurred on by an anti-american speech by the Ayatollah Khomeini they stormed the embassy thought the Marine Guard for three hours overpower them and took dozens of American hostages sixty Americans including putting our fellow-citizens whom you just saw bound and blindfolded are now beginning their six day of captivity inside the U._S.. Embassy in Tehran. It's in Iran are still pretty much in that place sever ties and sanctions over the past forty years this ongoing antagonism between the two countries has led to violent even deadly results in this episode. We're going to explore the direct military confrontations the covert battles and the twenty first century cyber war between them support for N._p._R.. And the following message come from American Express. You've got big ideas for your business but figuring out how to make them happened can be a real challenge well. The answer may be as simple as American Express financing solutions. They have over four thousand specialists who can help find the right solution for Your Business Chat with them today to see if you're eligible so you can get your plans up up and running the powerful backing of American Express don't do business without it terms apply we spend millions of ours and billions of dollars on video games but can console still compete with the next level of streaming and subscriber services. I'm Joshua Johnson subscribed to one a on N._p._R.. As we consider the future of gaming Iraq claims parrot out more than one hundred thirty air raid yesterday and to have shut down to Iranian jets Iraq Saddam Hussein has been active and honoring his honest field commanders the string of recent military triumph tilted the war decisively in Baghdad favor it was Saddam Hussein declared whoever climbs over our fence we shall climb over his roof <music>. The Iran Iraq war was one of the bloodiest wars of the second half of the twentieth century when it was over after eight years there was over a million casualties Iranian Iraqi casualties <music> relations between Iran and Iraq worsened when the ayatollahs took over the Iraqis claimed that the Iranians were refusing to implement border agreements and the first skirmishes broke out Iraq invaded Iran on land and they met with some initial success especially in the southwest which was well producing region of Iran but very quickly the war effort bob down and by nineteen eighty to Iran has succeeded in expelling Iraqi forces out of Iran and look like momentum was working against Iraq in the long term. Iran has much larger population larger territorial base I so there were fears on the Iraqi saw that eventually if the war dragged on they would loose so they tried to escalate expand the word to include economic warfare said he targeted <hes> Iran's oil in St Iran responded in kind and started attacking ships in the Gulf that were going to pick up oil from other Arab countries that were allied to Iraq and providing financial in other help to Iraq as part of its war effort against Iran for both countries oil is the lifeblood of their economy and so they're trying to sink sink one another's oil tankers to weaken one another economically so they attacked using aircraft helicopters fixed-wing aircraft and the also attacked using small boats the small boats very often would have machineguns rocket-propelled propelled grenades or small diameter rockets one hundred seven millimeter rockets so they would pull up in front of <hes> ship going through the Gulf. I'm they would set up align in front of the ships line of movement and as ship past them they would open fire and raked the whole and sometimes it would shoot at the bridge where the crew was located an oil tanker runs the gauntlet of air attacks in the Gulf War now the ships because they are very large tankers were often double-hull the damage did not <hes> 'cause the ships to sink and they're able to continue you know with their mission but it it impose costs it was dangerous for the crews and that area were Iran Iraq were fighting straight of Hormuz is an incredibly crucial Gio Jio economic chokehold once through the entrance straits of Hamas. The oil tankers face a problem regardless of their destination many given day twenty to forty percent of the world's oil passes through the straight of hormones and at its nearest point about twenty miles wide. What's happening is that the war on land between Iran and Iraq is spitting over into the sea with Western tangos being sitting targets the both sides the world cared about what was happening with these tank awards because it was affecting the price of gasoline throughout the world was absolutely crucial to the fate of the global economy in one thousand nine hundred nineteen eighty-seven Iran intensified its attacks on Kuwaiti tankers in particular alert Kuwait was playing and especially important role in the war as a country that was providing support to Iraq financial and otherwise providing loans <hes> they had been asking the United States about the idea of perhaps providing escort for their tankers so that they wouldn't be attacked and at first we didn't respond with enthusiasm so the Kuwaitis went to the Russians and the Russians he's responded almost mealy that they'd be willing to do so when we heard about that our response was well? We're potentially yielding the playing field in the Gulf to the Russians and within the context of great great power competition during the Cold War. The relationship was seen as zero-sum game so that's one the United States got itself involved from A._B._C.. This is world news tonight. With Peter Jennings good evening that was an American flag on in the back of that ship and we begin this evening and what is surely the world's most dangerous body of water the Persian Gulf tonight actually put its own flag on Kuwaiti tankers as a as a way of kind of deterring Iran from continuing these attacks so we were kind of in effect protecting our own ships at C.. Seven you set up arrangement whereby we would have a convoy system where we pick up Kuwaiti tankers outside the entrance to the Persian Gulf and escort them for about a day or two until they reach Kuwait drop them off and then we would kind of go back and you know escort more ships coming in and so the United States embarks on the Mideast mission which she is haunted by one question will uranian tried to attack the Kuwaiti ships now that they are technically American it wasn't commonly done and in fact was very controversial members of Congress. Were openly questioning. Why are we doing that? Komo are we putting American flags on the vessels of other countries while we kind of stretching ourselves so thin and potentially getting involved in a war between two countries which are essentially benchley both adversaries of the United States Iran Iraq the American assumption had been going into this that the presence of worships protecting we flagships the presence of U._S.. Aircraft carrying the region would deter the Iranians we had no prior military experience with the Iranians except for the failed hostage rescue operation a number of years before we had not had any sustained military interactions with Iran and therefore we were kind of like a blank slate we didn't really know what to expect and made a lot of assumptions which turned out not to be correct when put up against the test of reality that took a new ten today when American warships shelled and destroyed to Iranian oil platforms and then rated. There's another smoke could be seen pretend miles but the message was meant for Tehran six hundred ninety miles away. We were the U._S.. Militarization a low intensity conflict with run throughout this period which occasionally spiked to involve direct military engagements it was in retaliation for the weekend missile attack by Iran on an American flag tanker Durant is believed to a fire the long range missile which last Friday struck the American flag tankers see. I'll city wounding many of her group. All's for ten racing racing what you see is this this conflicts on in which everyone has their finger on the trigger. You know it's a fog of four. You're at sea and this constant risk of miscalculation this lack of communication the. The Islamic News Agency said the U._S. has become involved in the floor lead at war with Iran. The Iranian President Ali Khamenei is quoted as saying we will retaliate the United States expanded its rules of engagement to allow U._S.. Festivals at sea to come to the eighth of ships from other countries that were not part of the reflagging operation but are being attacked by the Iranians <hes> so we're being more proactive in the Gulf in in terms of our activities there was a newly arrived shipped you assistant sense come to the region <hes> though is a new class of ship with a radar system that could see further out with greater <hes> resolution than the radar systems that were then used by the ships. They're all generally was to kind of hang back and provide big picture of the air-defense environment for the other ships that robbery in the region July third in one thousand nine hundred ninety eight what happened on July third was Pakistani tanker had come under attack the Vincennes sentence helicopter to investigate as it approached the area where the attack was occurring hurrying Iranian ships fired warning shots at the helicopter to stay away the helicopters. They're under attack and reported as such Vincennes then steamed to the eight of helicopter as well as to join the fight in doing so they moved into Iranian territorial waters which was a violation of U._S.. Rules of engagement at the same time while it's doing this whilst pursuing the Iranian worships that were involved in the attack against the Pakistani tanker in Ronnie in civilian aircraft takes off from the airport in the city of thunder boss which is a airfield in a horde city in the south of your own in route to buy in the United Arab Emirates and what would usually be thirty minute flight very easy and as it turns out who's flying right over the area in which you Combo was was going on on the surface and it takes off mm-hmm the crew of the incense thought that this civilian jet was actually in Romanian fighter aircraft that was first gaining out too but then diving to attack they mistook it for an Iranian military sorry aircraft and there were trying to communicate with it but there were using military frequency <hes> to communicate with this Iranian plan and they weren't getting any response because the Iranian plane was a civilian airliner which wasn't on the military frequency so after numerous attempts trying to communicate with it they shot to surface air missiles <music> down Iran airliner killing two hundred ninety civilians aboard <music>. There's been a dramatic sudden escalation of hostilities in the Persian Gulf involving U._S. forces. There is the possibility that U._S.. Navy missiles may have accidentally shot down and Iranian civilian airliner is a billion airliner carrying nearly three hundred people and so I think the fog of war coupled with both miscalculation itchy trigger fingers and <hes> inability ability to communicate resulted in this terrible tragedy. You're out the morning there have been very confused reports as to what actually happened to this day. The Iranian government believes there was no way this was an accident doubtful doubtful that the plane that was shot down wasn't at fourteen fighter because the claim was clearly marked its flight pattern was clearly <hes> civilian aircraft headed to Dubai. There's probably dozens of such flights every day between bandit bus and Dubai but what do I side <hes> talks about his is the broader context you know this U._s.. Worship was actually receiving fire from what they we thought were were Uranian worships. You know there was constant attacks taking place during that time and so the United States acknowledged as a terrible mistake President Arnold Reagan offered what is known as ex-gratia payments voluntary payments by the United States government to the families of victims of Iran Air six five five and this settlement today <hes> for Iran on these things on our mistakes. Even if America claimed it was a mistake the message that was taken by the Iranian side was that this was an act of of open hostility one. The things you often here today is that there's a great. There's always a worry about miscalculation in dealing with the Iranians that there's always the potential for <hes> in his word escalation as a result of a tragic mistake on the other hand. I would point out that one of the lessons of this conflict in during the latter phases of the Iran Iraq war that actually both sides were pretty good at keeping the level conflict within a certain kind of relatively narrow band that neither side wanted the conflict to spiral out of control and deep become even larger war and they largely succeeded in that regard and that's something we should also keep in mind now when I think some of the discussions about the potential for full blown war between the United States around <hes> occurring currying. I think it's very clear that neither side want that kind of war. Several months later Iran actually signed the peace treaty to end the Iran Iraq war so the shooting down of flight six five year on air flights six five five was terrible tragedy should in which civilians were killed. If you look back though at history it may have been that the Iran Iraq were might have lasted longer had that terrible incident not taking place think one one thing the United States realized by the late nineteen eighties was that the Iranian Revolution <hes> was not just going to be a flash in the PAN phenomenon that the Revolutionary Islam in Khomeiniist ideology that was born nineteen seventy-nine revolution was going to be an enduring concern and shortly thereafter when the Soviet Union collapsed I think ooh Huron and threat radical Islam eclipse communism as kind of challenge or threat number one for the United States and I think similarly Wannabe Ron's takeaways ways from Iran Iraq war and it's interactions with the U._S.. Military is that the U._S.. Military's budget is more than fifty times that of Iran's and so so in a head to head conventional military matchup. You're on cannot compete with the United States how it can compete is using essentially asymmetric warfare whether that's the use of proxies whether that's the use took minds in some cases taking hostages <hes> having plausible deniability huron needed to figure out low cost high impact ways to challenge the United States. You and it's really honed that ability over the last four decades that was Kareem such poor a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Michael EISENSTAEDT director of the Washington Institutes Military Security Studies program coming up the story of the shadow war support for this podcast and the following message come from Delta Delta flies to three hundred cities around the world. That's three hundred cities where people in those three hundred cities think they're the only ones who know about that one place and three hundred cities where people miss someone in one of Delta's other two hundred ninety nine cities Delta is in flying to three hundred cities merely to bring people together but to show that we're not that far apart in the first place Delta. Keep climbing while you're sleeping. A whole bunch of news is happening around the world up. I is the N._p._R.. News podcast itchy caught up on the big news in a small amount of time spent about ten minutes with I on Weekday Mornings from N._p._R.. News I blame myself what happened. I was a certain guard ultimately responsible for the security of that be lt that morning so six thirty and Sunday morning Beirut Lebanon everybody was asleep. We have a bulletin from the Pentagon on the explosion in Beirut at the U._S.. Marine barracks relevant engine behind me but truck loaded with explosives broke the third day into the lobby of building him barrows occupied by Marines so the truck come to a stop dead center that lobby dead silence in the lobby. You could hear pin-drop. I saw bright orange flash beating crack proof barriers concluded of the lobby of the headquarters building weathering were sleeping. It was a bitch did it carving chunks of concrete and broken glass were hurled hundreds of yards wounding other marines. Some of those will be helpful told their colleagues from the rubble on my shoulder was one marine back here joining me help me get help me. Somebody please help me the Pentagon now at the make better hundred twenty addict survivors dead and wounded is still be filed forty. Five of the more critically wounded have been evacuate others remained evacuated then pretty pretty hectic. Take China <hes> just sort things out see what but the total affected this this tragedy on be so in nineteen eighty three truck bombing destroys <hes> U._S. military marine barracks and Beirut which was I think the deadliest single day attack on the U._S. Marine since Iwojima almost two hundred fifty marines were killed was unclear to people who was behind this attack because it was a truck bombing and in a now we become accustomed to suicide bombings we read about suicide bombings often in the news but at that time that was really a a novel attack it was I think widely assumed that Iran was responsible but Iran shrewdly operated via proxy tried not to leave fingerprints and you know the the attack was blamed on a group called Islamic Jihad which is widely thought to be essentially the precursor to Lebanese Hezbollah has bummer was created to fight Israel whose army invaded an audit emergence of a group called Hezbollah the Party of God. God was essentially a byproduct of two momentous events. One was the nineteen seventy nine Iranian revolution and the other was the nineteen eighty two Israeli invasion of Lebanon and so as a result of these two things all of a sudden the the sheer community in Lebanon had an enormous very wealthy external patron. It is a secretive militant movement of the sheer sect of Islam largely funded an armed by Iran to the wrong after the revolution defined itself and opposition to the United States in an opposition to Israel and so you started to see emergence of sheer radicalism and Lebanon which Iran was harnessing and in Lebanon as a country which in which America doesn't have enormous strategic assets. It's a very small country on the Mediterranean but it doesn't have oil resources like Saudi Arabia so the the major reason for America's presence in Lebanon to do peacekeeping and be there as a buffer for our key regional ally which is Israel there are no words to properly express our outrage and I think the outrage of all America's after the bombings marine barracks caused a real debate within the Reagan administration rated someone to pin the blame on Iran other suds there was no clear proof and I think others also realized that if America were to blame Iran directly then it would warrant <hes> action if you're gonNA blame Iran for massive attack on the U._S.. Marines you can't just sit on your hands afterwards you have to do something about it and so I think for that reason there was actually a reluctance within the Reagan administration to to aggressively blame Iran because America didn't really want to to fight that war and in hindsight historian so actually criticized the Reagan administration because they say by not responding to that massive attack by run against the US Marines essentially essentially a emboldened Iran Iran realized that actually suicide bombings can be quite effective truck bombings can be quite effective and eventually led to America's pull out from Lebanon Ambassadors Habib and draper were presently easily in Beirut will continue to press negotiations for the earliest possible total withdrawal of all external forces because Americans permitted looking at the television set said why our sons and daughters dying in Beirut Lebanon. What are we doing there? What are our interests and so I think this is a tactic which Iran has used quite effectively essentially testing the resolve of the United States and in some ways conducting acts of radicalism and terror which will bring in the American public and American public you know calling for for the restraint or pull out from the Middle East? How's my fellow citizens at this hour? American coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq to free. It's people and to defend the world from grave danger on my orders when rockwall was launched in two thousand three one of the Bush administration's underlying goals for the Iraq war was to create <hes> Shiite democracy and Baghdad which could then spread to Tehran and undermine the legitimacy of the Iranian regime and so for that reason Iran had every incentive to try to sabotage America's efforts and Iraq they believe leave that the Iraq war was intended to eventually overthrow the Iranian government and so for for that reason from the beginning of the Iraq war Iran was somewhat cautious <hes> the first sure so but then you started to see Ron Ramping up attacks on American troops using proxies you using their Schimmel Alicia proxies Iraq Iran is tried to franchise the Hezbollah model. I call it the `macdonaldisation of Hezbollah taking that the Shia militia franchise and Lebanon and using it other than other contexts whether that's to help fight for your ally Bashar Assad in Syria Iraqi Shia militias to fight against Isis and mm-hmm project Iranian power Iraq and now and Yemen a second day of airstrikes inside Yemen by Saudi jets bombing iranian-backed who t Shia militias which have taken control of the country and when we're talking about countries in the region which are experiencing either civil wars or power vacuums Iran is able to fill those voice much more effectively with these Shia the <hes> proxies on the ground the top U._S. commander for the Middle East worries about what could be Tehran's bid for superpower status so I think a major asymmetric advantage that Iran has over both united estates and U._S.. Allies like Saudi Arabia for example is that almost all Shia radicals in the region. Let's say from India to Lebanon are willing to go out and kill if not die for the Islamic Republic of Iran whereas almost all suny radicals in the Middle East are deathly opposed to the United States and they want to actually overthrow the government of Saudi Arabia groups like al-Qaeda and isis basis are Sunni radicals which are not said Arabia's proxy actually Saudi Arabia's adversary and so despite the fact that Shia are outnumbered by Sunni by four five to one in the region Iran has a monopoly a plea over sheer radicalism and increasingly not only does Iran operate be a proxy but it's proxies also how plausible deniability because not necessarily doing the fighting themselves. They're using I._A._D.'s. He's using drones using mind so it gives Iran two layers of deniability coming up how one computer virus started a cyber arms race and support for this podcast comes from R._e._I.. Co Op as do the following questions. Where where do you see yourself in five miles? What does silence sound like can bear spray help you sleep? What's the easiest version of climbing a mountain dew mosquito? Find me attractive R._E._I.. Can help you find out for yourself with gear classes and eighty one one years of outdoor experience learn more at R._e._I.. Dot Com running facility has been targeted for cyber attack the second time it's happened in less than a year was cyber attack in the history race between Iranian officials trying to build their nuclear program and outside forces trying to stop it is getting more intense. This new era warfare has already begun. We have to go all the way back to around. Nineteen ninety-six mid-nineties is when the U._S. started to contemplate the development of offensive <hes> cyber capabilities and right around that time Iran obtained batch of illicit lissette uranium hexafluoride gas from China and so that sort of what we can serve traced the beginnings of the Iranian illicit nuclear program they of course have been watching Iraq prior to that and sing that Iraq was looking at nuclear capabilities and of course Iran and Iraq were longtime enemies and so Iran's view was if Iraq is looking at obtaining nuclear weapons capability ability than we should also be engaging in that as well so around two thousand Iran broke ground on the Facility Natanz U._S. intelligence. Wasn't you know one hundred percent positive about what if that facility was going to be but there were watching it so February two thousand three the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency which is the agency that oversees our monitor's the nuclear programs around the world I- inspectors make their first visit to Natanz and now we return to Iran where today U._N.. Inspectors visited a site you and they discovered that Iran is actually much farther along in the program than anyone suspected elected. They already had a pilot plant set up at Natanz. They has some centrifuges there that they were beginning to assemble. They had said that they hadn't enriched any batch of uranium. Hexafluoride gas yet but got turned out to be incorrect. This first process of enriching that first batch was really the beginning step of having enough uranium hexafluoride gas to build upon this is this is the initial step of getting them to dot com and there was a lot of panic at that point to halt the program until I e inspectors could obtain more information so there was a lot of pressure put on Iran to stop everything. The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog dog is in talks with Iranian officials into Horon and breakthrough Iran surprisingly actually agreed throughout two thousand three two thousand four and then something changed in two thousand and five Dr Mahmoud Houdini John was elected president of your on and shortly after that Iran announced that was done with the cessation agreement and it was no longer going to remain at the stasis position and it was going to go forward with enriching its first batch of uranium hexafluoride gas and so you can imagine the panic in Israel <hes> when that happens they jump forward about six months on January February two thousand and six now Iran now nces that they have enriched their our first batch of uranium hexafluoride gas in that pilot plant and the taunts and then they announced that they had perfected the enrichment process and they were going to begin installing the first centrifuges in the actual enrichment plants Israel of course was focused on trying to bomb the facility. They come to the U._S.. For permission from President Bush launch a strike against the Natanz facility and the U._S. denied that permission and instead had this alternative plan. They wanted to do so between February two thousand six and February two thousand seven the U._S.. This is developing and testing stuxnet. stuxnet was what we call. A worm part of it was virus part of it was a worm. A worm is Mauer that will travel from machine to machine without any human interaction so the initial release of courses done by human but once a worm finds a vulnerable system it will infect that system and then it will search automatically for any other a system connected to that system on an an internal network or over the Internet and traveled to that system and in fact that as well so you've got this Natanz facility that has critical computers that are got from the Internet and also the facility itself L. Physically protected they had three outer perimeter security wall some Anti Aircraft Guns Earthen Berms entirely hide the facility from view around the facility. They had fences they had our guards armed guards all of that so the only way that you could get stocks that into where you needed to go was to have someone walk it in deliver it either wittingly or unwittingly and we know that the first version of stuxnet could only only be spread via U._S._B.. Sticks it's quite possible that the first version of stuxnet because it didn't have a lot of spreading capabilities in it was spread by an inside mole they probably had close access says inside the tons so two thousand and seven they unleashed at first version of stuxnet. It was a partnership between the U._S.. In Israel their aim wasn't too it wasn't catastrophic damage. They didn't wanNA destroy all centrifuges. They wanted to simply stop. You're on from obtaining enough enrich uranium gas to have a bomb Iran had a limited supply of uranium hexafluoride gas that it had purchased from China and they had a limited supply of materials they can use to manufacture new centrifuges and so the goal was stuxnet was to destroy some of the gas and some of the centrifuges <hes> in order to buy time for diplomacy and sanctions to catch up when stuxnet I gets on to that eh seven four seventeen pl see it doesn't cause it sabotage right away. It sits there for a period of time recording the normal operation of oh centrifuges and storing that information and just keep storing and storing for days and when the sabotage kicks in it takes that information about the normal operations that it stored and it now seeds that back to the monitoring stations stations so wildfowl closed and the pressure is increasing inside the centrifuges. The engineers at the monitoring stations are seeing that everything's normal all levels are open pressure is normal. She does normal nothing's wrong and so they wouldn't have seen the sabotage happening what they would have what they would have seen. However is they would have seen that they were losing gas? They would have seen eventually the end result is that the centrifuges start breaking down but they wouldn't have known if the problem was the machinery scenery itself. Maybe the centrifuges were faulty. The equipment was faulty that would have been there. I focus and stuff that the one other thing in addition to feeding that false information to the monitoring stations stations stuxnet froze the safety mechanism on this system so these automated safety mechanisms were designed to detect if the pressure inside the centrifuges increases if the heat increases if they start spinning out control and if it sees that system is getting out of a safe condition it's supposed to automatically shut down those interviews to prevent them from being destroyed a ruined but stuxnet stopped the safety mechanism from working so Iran was confused. They didn't know what was happening. Thank you <hes> we have been through a lot together. This is a covert operation and a covert operation has to be authorized by the sitting president and the sitting the president was leaving. We had an election in two thousand and eight and we see in the code that stuxnet is designed to halt during this temporary phase of when we we are losing the sitting president and in January two thousand nine Obama's coming into office and he meets with President Bush and during this period Bush explains to him this covert operation which we now know is called Olympic Games and he explains what's happening in what is designed to do you and tells him that it's not it hasn't achieved its full purpose yet and encourages Obama to reauthorize the Olympic Games program an Obama does and we already see in January the attackers are getting prepared to unleash the second version of their assault and throughout two thousand nine it's causing it sabotage and we actually see signs of the sabotage externally but we don't know what it is. The International Atomic Energy Agency is sending inspectors to launch facility on average about twice a month and they're sending back reports to their headquarters in Vienna and those reports are saying that Iran is having problems with its centrifuges those inspectors start noticing not just that Iran is having problems but they're actually removing centrifuges now so it's not just that they've stopped spinning centrifuges and they've taken gas out of centrifuges actually removing centrifuges from the cascades and they're sending this back in the report announced the first sign line that Iran is given up. They don't know what's going on there. Checking the equipment they're checking everything and yet stuxnet continues to operate and it continues to engage in sabotage and it's not until June two thousand ten stuxnet is unleashed in another round in March and April two thousand ten and the March version is what got caught the March version had multiple spreading mechanisms attached to it including shooting that worm and it spread widely out of control it started spreading to machines that weren't the targeted machines spreading to any windows machine at a confined find initially just in Iran and it started causing problems on machines in Iran outside Natanz someone in Iran who had systems that were kept crashing and rebooting in crashing in rebooting and they couldn't figure out what was going on so they contacted their maker of their antivirus software company in Belarus called Virus Block Ada and Virus Block Ada obtained remote access to some of those systems in Iran that were having problems and they discovered some suspicious code that they believe was causing the machines to reboot crashing boot and so they found this code and they started taking part they immediately discovered that it was malware and that it was designed into spread to any windows machine so they contacted Microsoft because it was using vulnerability in the window software they contacted Microsoft to have that vulnerability patched and then they had other files that were dropped onto the machine when it was infected but those files were encrypted and they couldn't equip them and they didn't have a lot of experience taking malware part so they may those files available to the rest of the security community and that's when a company he called SYMANTEC stepped in and started reverse engineering that code they were able to decrypt it and they knew that it was designed for sabotage until then everyone had assumed that this was spyware her this was conducting espionage experts say stuxnet is an exceptionally sophisticated computer worm that attacks the software used to control automated systems. It's now been found in south. You can imagine from November two thousand seven all the way to November the two thousand ten stuxnet continued to operate unimpeded marina. John blamed the Israelis and the U._S. but Iran didn't do what we expect it to them to do. They didn't go to the United Nations since and complain and they didn't retaliate which they would have been in position to do legally international law sort of limits what a nation can do when it's under digital attack like that it says that you can can you can take action to halt an attack. That's current but that any sort of retaliation that you do has to be proportional to the attack itself and so Iran was pretty limited and also going into the United Nations Iran is not very powerful in the United Nations so it knew that it wasn't going to get the support or backing that needed to punish the U._S. or Israel. They've never seen anything like it. A massive onslaught of cyber attacks on America's biggest banks backs slowing down their websites even forcing some to shutdown temporarily costing the money stocks that was proof of concept for any nation to see that digital capabilities like this are viable alternative and so what that has done is it's opened up this new kind of warfare where it's lowered the bar of the actors who can engage in it Senator Joe Lieberman and Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee said I think this was done by Iran. It's likely retaliation for previous via cyber attacks on Iran and for other things when you drop a conventional weapon your victim can't pick up those pieces of the weapon and reconstituted and send it back at you. The difference with digital weapon is when you're launching a digital weapon it's fully contained and all the code is there and so you're sending the blueprint for the weapon to your victim and all the victim has to do reverse engineer that that weapon in the way that semantic reverse engineered it and study it and design it in a way that they can send it back to you and so what we did was we threw stones from a glass house in the U._S.. We've always had this advantage of geography. We have this distance from our adversaries but digital warfare racist that distance now the front line is on businesses and critical infrastructure here. It's brought the war home that was Kim Zetter. She's a writer for wired Magazine and author of the Book countdown to Zero Day stuxnet and the launch of the world's first digital weapon. That's this week show. I'm Ramsey KNOB Louis. I'm Randy Fateh and you've been listening to through line from N._p._R.. This show was produced by me and me and Jamie York Jerry to Anna Hopman Lawrence Lane Kaplan Levinson rising mm summer Nigeria eaten original music was produced for this episode by Ramtane and his band drop electric things also to either put aside and Anya Brenneman. If you like something you heard or you have an idea. Please write us at through line at N._p._R.. Dot Org or hit us up on twitter at through line N._p._R.. Thanks for listening <music>.