NATO’s cyberwarfare center says cyber attacks launched against the Islamic Republic of Iran by the US and Israel constituted “an act of force” and were illegal under international law.
According to The Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare, commissioned by NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence in Estonia, “Acts that kill or injure persons or destroy or damage objects are unambiguously uses of force, ”The Washington Timesreported on Sunday. Michael D. Schmitt, the manual’s lead author and professor of international law at the US Naval War College in Newport, said the group of researchers who wrote the manual all agreed that the use of Stuxnet virus, that attacked Iran’s cyber structures in 2009, was an act of force. Washington and Tel Aviv are believed to have jointly developed the malware, although neither has accepted responsibility for the attack. Iran has been the target of several cyber attacks over the past few years. In June 2012, a report by theWashington Post said the US and the Israeli regime had cooperated in creating the computer virus Flame to spy on Iran. US National Security Agency, the CIA and the Israeli military worked together to create the Flame virus, the paper added. In addition, the New York Times also revealed in the same month that US President Barack Obama secretly ordered a cyber attack with the Stuxnet computer virus against Iran in 2010 to sabotage the country’s nuclear energy program. “From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyber weapons,” the report said. In response to such attacks, Iran launched a cyber defense headquarters tasked with preventing computer worms from breaking into or stealing data from the country’s maximum security networks, including nuclear facilities, power plants, data centers, and banks.