Natanz aftermath
What is going on in Iran? Cyber experts weigh in

Iran’s Natanz nuclear site suffered an electrical disturbance just hours after starting up new advanced centrifuges used to enrich uranium.

Akiva Spiegelman ,

דגל איראן
דגל איראן
צילום: ערוץ 7

Since this morning, the media has also gone on a frenzy in an attempt to provide its various viewers a complete a picture as possible regarding the power outage in Iran's Natanz nuclear plant. Arutz Sheva has gathered a number of cyber experts to discuss the situation and its potential aftermath.

Eric Barbing, former head of the Shin Bet cyber division: 'The case in Natanz connects to things that are happening in the region right now, and assuming that this is not an administrative incident, it seems at the moment that it is only a message and damage to consciousness. Iran has gone through a difficult year as a country with a strategy of silencing events that harm government or government services. In the present case it is a relatively rare coincidence, probably in one of their strategic places in which the infrastructure is expected to show exceptional strength. When there is such a power outage, even if it is not related to the operational axis and is related to the Iranian nuclear project, we are left with a number of questions. As stated, no abnormal activity has been recorded at the moment, but this is a message. Various cyber tools may be used here.

Berbing then added: 'The person who caused the power outage performs a gentle message transmission. It does not seem coincidental. The very media preoccupation with the subject causes the inter-arena struggle to be used as a deterrent. In cyber bodies will never take responsibility. This is a cold war and yet not such a cold one. If any player, including Israel, wanted them to know they were responsible for the action, they would make their intention clear. This is currently not the case. The damage at the moment, as stated, is on a conscious level alone'.

Dr. Harel Menashri, head of the Cyber Faculty at the Holon Institute of Technology as well as one of the founders of the National Cyber Security Authority: 'It is possible this is a cyber attack. There are a number of countries with capabilities and a desire to carry out such actions. It should be noted that one of the things that delayed the Iranian nuclear program is covert activity that includes activity in cyberspace. About a year ago there was an explosion in the same compound. If the Iranians reported it than it is probably an unusual event.

When asked about the extent of the damage, Dr. Menshari elaborated: 'The damage is substantial and therefore has been published. If there is a malfunction in the power plant electric grid, it may produce damage similar to the one inflicted upon the centrifuge.

How far back does the damage send the Iranians?

'It is clear that the move does not stop but only hinders the progress of the Iranian nuclear program. The nuclear situation is currently several times worse than before the 2016 nuclear deal termination. Once the US withdrew from the agreement the Iranians gained breathing space and began to act in an uncontrolled manner.

What can be done now?

'It is definitely worth making more moves like the one made yesterday and we must embrace the US administration. without them we will not be able to move forward and stop the nuclear development'.

Dr. Yoel Guzansky, senior fellow at the INSS: 'Power outages happen often, and they may or may not be innocent ones. The timing is quite interesting as well. This event occurs on the eve of talks in Vienna regarding the nuclear deal alongside tensions at sea. I feel the timing is not coincidental and is intended to send a message to Iran. Iran has recently made progress in the study of centrifuges, therefore Israel may not be alone in its efforts to contain the regime and keep it in check. Centrifuges can get out of balance as a result of a power outage, I am awaiting the evaluation of the Atomic Energy Commission in order to draw a conclusion.

What could have brought on such an action?

The naval activities carried out by Israel come to warn of the Iranian actions in Syria.
I guess there is coordination here between all sorts of countries with overlapping interests.
The damaged ship intelligence-wise controlled a strategic area. The injury was a message to its operators that they may have crossed a certain red line'.

What is the extent of the damage?

'It is too early to know and if it was indeed done from the outside, it shows Iran that there are red lines and that crossing them will come at a price. From an intelligence standpoint, this shows how intrusive and vulnerable the most sensitive place in Iran actually is. This is a sharp warning message, and it is not yet clear from whom'.