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Wouldn't the people who know the physical things just write requirements for those farther on down the chain?

The threat analysts say, we need to destroy Iran's ability to make nuclear weapons. The nuclear weapons specialists say, the part where we can best do that is by somehow breaking their centrifuges. The centrifuge technician they call up says, "well, x RPMs will really ruin those things. And it would be hard to tell if they did it like this..." Then the software guys make the code that ruins the centrifuge, and the red team incorporates it into their fancy worm, with specs on what exactly to look for.

Ultimately, it was kind of a failure in that anyone found out about it. Maybe there were better programs, and because they were better we never heard about them at all. But still it's pretty amazing :)

The key part is that you have to bring all of those all together. In hindsight it might be straightforward but if you had a blank slate, how would you approach the problem of "stop Iran from refining Uranium"?

To me the most surprising result would be if it cost fewer than bombing the nuclear facility. At 100k$ each bomb, Stuxnet looks affordable, plus all the expertise and other attack vectors you get from piecing it togethet.

$100K for a bomb? I have no idea what bombs really cost, but if we go with that number, they could have dropped a lot of bombs for that price. One junior engineer working for a year costs that much. We know that expertise in a lot of fields existed, that implies a number of engineers.

I'm going to guess a bomb is cheaper. Of course a bomb has a lot of other disadvantages which is why it wasn't used.

One particularly expensive component of stuxnet is deniability. Although the commonly accepted theory for stuxnet's invention is "a state actor", specifically the United States, there's no proof of that at all. And conjecture without proof poses no threat to the US government.

If the government were to, on the otherhand, bomb Iranian nuclear facilities, one small mistake in the plan could ruin their chances of deniability, bringing down international condemnation on the US.

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