US, Israel Used Dutch Spy to Launch Stuxnet Malware Against Iran

Report says US and Israel spent $1 billion to develop the infamous Stuxnet virus, built to sabotage Iran's nuclear program in 2008.

A nuclear plant
Source: Mohammad Aaref Barahouei via Alamy Stock Photo

After a two-year investigation into the details surrounding the Stuxnet virus, unleashed in 2008 against the Iranian nuclear program, journalists with Dutch newspaper Volkskrant have released a report saying the malware cost $1 billion to develop.

Besides the enormous price tag, the outlet said a Dutch spy was used to release the Stuxnet virus into the Iranian nuclear infrastructure. The Dutch government told Volkskrant that the government understood the then-36-year-old Erik van Sabben was working to sabotage the Iranian nuclear project, however there was no knowledge of a cyber weapon of Stuxnet's consequence being used as part of the proceedings.

The report detailed that Van Stabben, working as an Iranian engineer, accessed an underground nuclear facility in the city of Natanz and installed the Stuxnet virus, ultimately damaging nuclear centrifuges and setting back the effort by "several years," it said. The malware was most likely hidden in a water pump he installed, the report concluded.

Van Stabben died just two weeks later in a motorcycle accident in Dubai, the report added. It remains unclear whether he was aware of his role in deploying Stuxnet. No foul play was suspected in Van Stabben's death.

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