LOS ANGELES — It reads like a riveting sci-fi novel, but it’s stunningly real: A super-sophisticated malicious computer virus burrowed its way into Iran’s nuclear facilities and took down several parts of the operation. And it came from the U.S.
In 2010, it was the United States who launched Stuxnet, a seek-and-destroy cybermissile so sophisticated that some briefly thought it might have an other-than-earthly origin, against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, according to a New York Times report. The virus was created jointly by the United States and Israel.
In his first months in office, President Obama covertly ordered sophisticated attacks on the computers that ran Iran’s nuclear facilities, upping U.S. use of cyber weaponry in a sustained attack, the newspaper said.
Early on, a programming error allowed the worm to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and whoosh around the world on the Internet. Ultimately, the super worm was left to wreak its havoc, and it took out 1,000 of 5,000 centrifuges Iran was using to enhance uranium, according to the report. It was as effective as a bomb or agents infiltrating country’s nuclear facilities to plant explosives, the report said.
Unemployment rises to 8.2 percent in May as job growth stalls again
WASHINGTON — The nation’s unemployment rate rose for the first time in nearly a year, to 8.2 percent in May, as the economy added a disappointingly small number of jobs for the third straight month.
The government said Friday that employers created on net just 69,000 jobs last month — less than half of what analysts were expecting. What’s more, the Labor Department revised downward the job-growth numbers for the prior two months, putting the average monthly job growth at 96,000 for the last three months. In the prior three-month period, from December to February, the economy added an average of 252,000 jobs a month.
The May jobless rate ticked up from 8.1 percent in April, after steadily declining since last August, when the unemployment figure was 9.1 percent.
The latest data are certain to heighten fears that the economy has slipped into a dangerous spring stall similar to the prior two years — and it could create trouble for President Obama and his re-election bid.
Taliban insurgents attack NATO base in Afghanistan
KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban insurgents detonated a truck bomb, then tried to storm a NATO base Friday in eastern Afghanistan, but coalition forces repelled the attack, killing 14 militants, officials said.
No foreign or Afghan troops were killed, according to NATO, but the attack showed the fundamentalist Islamic movement remains a resilient force even as Afghan President Hamid Karzai insists they do not have the means to retake the nation after foreign forces leave.
In a separate incident, a British soldier was shot dead by insurgents in southern Afghanistan.
The Ministry of Defense said the soldier from 1st Battalion, the Royal Welsh was killed by small arms fire Friday during a foot patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province.
The soldier’s name was not released.
The death brings the number of British troops to die in Afghanistan since 2001 to 416.
In the past two years, the U.S.-led coalition has sent tens of thousands of troops into Taliban strongholds in the south and has largely succeeded in boosting security there. The Taliban have responded by opening up new fronts in the north and west and stepping up attacks in the east, where much of the heaviest fighting is presently concentrated.
NATO plans to pull combat troops out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and turn security over to local forces. If security allows, Karzai said foreign forces could pull out earlier.