What is really behind the mysterious explosions in Iran?

From the worm that infiltrated the Natanz reactor to the recent cyber attack and the explosions - what is happening in Iran?

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Smoke rises from ships that are burning at the Iranian port of Bushehr
Smoke rises from ships that are burning at the Iranian port of Bushehr

The Middle East is witnessing a new form of kinetic cyber warfare that has dramatically set back Iran's nuclear program.

Dr. Stephen Bryen, former Reagan era Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Technology and Security, noted military technologist and Asia Times columnist calls it “Son of Stuxnet”.

That is a reference to the joint US-Israel malworm virus attack in 2009 -2010 on the Natanz enriched uranium cascade facility that destroyed an estimated 1,000 of 5,000 centrifuges. The difference this time was the cyber-attacks may have generated explosions.

Natanz was hit on July 2, 2020 by an explosion that destroyed the equipment and facilities for producing the current generation of advanced centrifuges. That according to David Albright of the Washington, DC-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) may have set back Iran’s nuclear weapons development by 2 plus years and even longer.

Bryen suggests that Israel has been “brilliant” in conducting sophisticated covert and cyber kinetic operations by using in-country assets and highly trained commandos to set up ‘sleeper’ explosions.

This was amplified in remarks by former Vice Chief of Staff and Fox News Analyst General Jack Keane: "Keane thought the alleged strikes were 'a smart strategy' on the part of Israel. If you accept the objective that we do not want Iran to have nuclear weapons with missiles that can deliver them, then the strategy the Israelis are doing, likely with at least the moral support of the US, is fairly savvy because it gives the Israelis deniability, ”he explained.

He talks about the claims for Footprints of Israel in the original Stuxnet.

The 2009-2010 Stuxnet malworm virus, Bryen noted, was imported into the Natanz facility, and spread by "Bluetooth" infecting the Siemens PCS-7 SCADA and programmable controllers that spun the centrifuges out of control. In the encrypted code of Stuxnet was the term ‘My RTUs’ meaning Myrtle- the Hebrew for Hadassah or Esther.

There was also the code that triggered the spinning of centrifuges out of control: 19790509. That was the date of the execution of the leader of the Iranian Jewish community, Habib Elghanian, the head of the Tehran Persian Jewish Community. His death started the large wave of Iranian Jewish immigration.

Also discussed in the Bryen interview was the parallel launch of the Israeli Ofek16 satellite with more powerful cameras and sensors to provide intelligence on Iranian and proxy threats in the region. Bryen noted the success of an Alaska test of the Israeli Arrow ABM system able to attack ICBMs during launch phase which he gave a “B +” rating versus a poor one for the US Ground Based Mid-Course Interceptors.