Next Stuxnet may target North Korea

By F. Michael Maloof

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WASHINGTON – The Stuxnet virus played havoc with Iran’s nuclear development program, and now sources say a similar strategy is being considered to stem North Korea’s nuclear plans, according to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

The idea is to make North Korea’s computer network dysfunctional and to delay a concerted North Korean effort to miniaturize its nuclear weapons to fit on its missiles.

A Defense Department spokesman had no comment on the use of a computer virus such as Stuxnet to target North Korea’s nuclear weapons development program.

But the rogue nation recently tested successfully a three-stage missile that U.S. intelligence analysts say could reach the western part of the United States.

During that test, the North Koreans also orbited a “package,” which analysts say could be a nuclear weapon that could be de-orbited on command and exploded at a high altitude over any part of the U.S. to create an electromagnetic pulse that could knock out the U.S. electric grid system.

The sources say it’s a form of asymmetric warfare that a militarily inferior country could resort to against a superior U.S. military. One nuclear bomb could become the nation’s Achilles heel by severely crippling or knocking out the nation’s electric grid system, affecting all communications and ability of the military to respond.

The prospect comes as a North Korean website, Uriminzokkiri, last week made the point that the U.S. was “well within” range of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons.

Sources point out that Stuxnet would be just the thing to use against North Korea’s newly unveiled uranium enrichment plant, which they say may be colluding with Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The North Korean nuclear facilities are said to be using centrifuges to enrich uranium.

According to David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, which monitors nuclear programs worldwide, the computer-control equipment used for North Korea’s centrifuges comes from the same companies that provided the equipment to Iran.

In an interview with Danger Room of, Albright said “the computer-control equipment North Korea got was the same Iran got.”

He added, however, that precise equipment North Korea has remains largely unknown due to almost no access.

Western sources who have had limited access to North Korea’s control system say it is very modern. Albright said North Korea’s control system is dual use in that it not only is used by the country’s petrochemical industry but also is the same computer-control equipment used to run centrifuges.

Albright is known to be a close adviser to the intelligence community of the U.S. and its allies on nuclear issues.

He said the computer-control equipment is supposed to give direction to the frequency converter high-speed drives which are used for uranium enrichment, suggesting that the equipment is vulnerable to Stuxnet or a similar virus.

In addition to nuclear enrichment facilities, the frequency converter drives, especially with an output over 600 Hz, are used to control very precise processes including the petro-chemical industry, balancing machines used to build fan blades for jet engines and in blending chemicals for such uses as rocket fuel.

While Albright didn’t identify the manufacturer of the equipment, Stuxnet was designed to spread by Microsoft Windows and target the German company Siemens’ industrial software and equipment.

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