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The plan, code-named Nitro Zeus, was devised to disable Iran’s air defenses, communications systems and crucial parts of its power grid. BERLIN — In the early years of the Obama administration, the United States developed an elaborate plan for a cyberattack on Iran in case the diplomatic effort to limit its nuclear program failed and led to a military conflict, according to a coming documentary film and interviews with military and intelligence officials involved in the effort. The plan, code-named Nitro Zeus, was devised to disable Iran’s air defenses, communications systems and crucial parts of its power grid, and was shelved, at least for the foreseeable future, after the nuclear deal struck between Iran and six other nations last summer was fulfilled.
Nitro Zeus was part of an effort to assure President Obama that he had alternatives, short of a full-scale war, if Iran lashed out at the United States or its allies in the region. The United States military develops contingency plans for all kinds of possible conflicts, such as a North Korean attack on the South, loosenuclear weapons in South Asia or uprisings in Africa or Latin America. While the Pentagon was making those preparations, American intelligence agencies developed a separate, far more narrowly focused cyberplan to disable the Fordo nuclear enrichment site, which Iran built deep inside a mountain near the city of Qum. Fordo has long been considered one of the hardest targets in Iran, buried too deep for all but the most powerful bunker-buster in the American arsenal.
Under the terms of the nuclear agreement with Iran, two-thirds of the centrifuges inside Fordo have been removed in recent months, along with all nuclear material. The development of the two secret programs suggest how seriously the Obama administration was concerned that its negotiations with Iran could fail.
The existence of Nitro Zeus was uncovered in the course of reporting for “Zero Days,” a documentary that will be first shown Wednesday at the Berlin Film Festival.
This entry was posted in Daily Digest, Foreign Affairs, National and tagged cyberattack, Iran, nuclear deal, Zero Day.
Subscribe to our Daily Digest for independent journalism through the lens of social justice & human rights directly in your inbox. PDD-39 expands upon and clarifies the responsibilities of the FBI as the Federal Lead Agency for crisis management. The NCP responses may include threat assessment, consultation, agent identification, hazard detection and reduction, environmental monitoring, decontamination, and long-term site restortation (environmental clean-up) operations. Inquiries concerning this annex should be addressed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Response and Recovery Directorate, Operations and Planning Division, Planning and Coordination Branch. Orders for the Commander of the US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) to submit a report on means of nullifying China's underground tunnel network were outlined in the new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) signed by President Barack Obama on January 2. The researchers claimed that China's Second Artillery Corps, a secretive branch of the country's military tasked with protecting and deploying its ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads, had dug some 3,000 miles of tunnels which currently housed up to 3,000 nuclear warheads - ten times US intelligence estimates.
The report drew a firestorm of criticism via its unconventional Internet-based research methods, which relied on Google Earth, blogs, military journals and even a fictional television program about Chinese artillery soldiers, to reach its conclusions. But the questionable conclusions of the Georgetown report and Washington's drive to more properly assess China's military capability, are more reflective of Washington's own 'nuclear strategy' than Beijing's ambitions, James Corbett, editor of the Japanese-based Corbett Report news website, argues.
RT:We've got most of America's ballistic submarines, we've also got more US ships moving to the Pacific, the Pentagon all the while promising to contain China, and now planning for a possible nuclear strike. RT: There are certainly some who say that the American president is powerless when going head to head with the military industrial complex. JC: It certainly could, and of course the more bellicose that the US becomes against China, the more safe Japan will feel in either threatening or responding to these aggressions. Does an Italian village filled with cigarette smoking centenarians hide the secret to long life? For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. Israel’s Mossad, along with Saudi officials, is working on contingency plans that could include an attack on Iran if its nuclear program is not curbed enough during the negotiations in Geneva this week, a new report has revealed. Both powers have expressed concern that restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program will not be enough. It was also revealed that the Saudis were willing to assist an Israeli attack by cooperating with the use of drones, rescue helicopters, and tanker planes. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that lifting sanctions on Iran without demanding sufficient concessions in return will only encourage Tehran on its path to nuclear armament and lead to future conflict. On Saturday, Netanyahu spoke to French daily Le Figaro about the situation, stating that Israel and the “leading states in the Arab world” agree when it comes to Tehran and its nuclear capabilities.
The prime minister’s comments were made just before French President Francois Hollande was scheduled to arrive in Israel for talks on Iran on Sunday.
Iranian political analyst Seyed Mohammad Marandi told RT that an imminent joint attack on Iran was unlikely given the serious ramifications it could provoke for the region. Although he consented that the Saudis and Israelis have been moving closer together lately, neither of them stood to gain from attacking Iran.
And by contingency plan, we don’t mean dusting off the board games and buying candles.
If you’ve got a couple of hundred thousand rand to spare, you could go completely off the grid, and for less than R10 000 you can pick up a decent petrol generator which will keep your essentials up and running during hours of darkness. The easiest and most convenient way around loadshedding is to buy a bunch of Uninterruptable Power Supplies (UPS).
Kurien adds that in his experience, many UPS boxes are badly made and don’t maintain the battery properly, so they need replacing after a year or so (and this mirrors our own experience). And what he’s built is essential a bunch of low cost, reliable UPS systems which run entirely off of solar power, keeping his laptop, modem, router and even gate motor up and running all day, every day. For less than the cost of the cheapest UPS we could find in South Africa, Kurien has a neat system which keeps his essentials running all day and night long. In addition, he runs a WiFi router, an iBurst router, a Telkom LTE router and a Raspberry Pi media centre (with USB storage) from two panels and batteries.
Fortunately there’s a huge number of cheap solar panels out there, many designed for camping and 4×4 enthusiasts.

A portable panel means you can move it around, so you can work in the garden or take it on holiday. Much has been said about where to place solar panels for maximum efficiency, and how to keep them pointing at the sun. How much power do I need?Almost every electrical device in your home will have its power requirements written next to the plug in very small print. The second piece of kit, the charge controller, isn’t absolutely necessary if you really know what you’re doing, but it is a good idea all the same.
The middle terminals here lead to the battery, and either divert energy to charging the battery or draw power back when the panel switches off.
A good quality charge controller isn’t expensive, he says, and will make your battery last for years to come. There’s no shortage of big 12V batteries capable of charging from a solar panel and discharging into your gear – but as with everything beware false economies. Of course, if you want more capacity, lead crystal might get prohibitively expensive quickly.
Don't forget your laptop has a battery!When the sun goes down or the power goes off, remember to unplug your laptop from the solar system and let it run on its own battery.
The inverter adds an extra load, and will eventually drain the battery even if your gear is off. An inverter will take the low voltage DC power supplied by the solar panel and battery and convert it into high voltage AC power required by anything that plugs into the mains. Converting AC to DC (or vice versa) is a tremendously inefficient process, so plugging a laptop charger into an inverter is likely to lose you around 50% of your hard earned energy coming in from the solar panel. You can increase the efficiency by investing in a “pure sine wave” inverter, but they do cost more than “modified sine wave” ones. Be careful though – attaching this straight to the battery will almost certainly cause some damage.
Theoretically, you can run your TV, pool pump and fridges from a similar system, but you’ll need to do the maths. Basically, unless you’ve got a really big battery, you’re not going to keep them up and running for four hours, although as modern TVs are so energy efficient you might get two hours from a standard car battery.
One of the benefits of hacking together your own system like this is that you don’t have to do it all at once. More on this topicEaton looks to ease loadshedding with new solar hybrid…A simple way to go solar? Get our daily newsletter!An exclusive worldwide wrap of tech news in your inbox every morning, plus exclusive offers and more! At its height, officials say, the planning for Nitro Zeus involved thousands of American military and intelligence personnel, spending tens of millions of dollars and placing electronic implants in Iranian computer networks to “prepare the battlefield,” in the parlance of the Pentagon. The attack would have been a covert operation, which the president can authorize even in the absence of a continuing conflict. The proposed intelligence operation would have inserted a computer “worm” into the facility with the aim of frying Fordo’s computer systems — effectively delaying or destroying the ability of Iranian centrifuges to enrich uranium at the site.
The facility is banned from any nuclear-related work and is being converted to other uses, eliminating the threat that prompted the attack plan, at least for the next 15 years.
It also demonstrates the critical role cyberoperations now play in both military planning and covert intelligence operations. Relies Heavily On Saudi Money To Support Syrian RebelsNavy SEALs, A Beating Death And Claims Of A Cover-UpDonald Trump Says He Would Be Open To Closing U.S. If Federal crisis management response is authorized, the FBI activates multi-agency crisis management structures at FBI Headquarters, the responsible FBI Field Office, and at the incident site (see Figure 3).
I don't think we have to look at this report within the context of their going to move in with a nuclear strike right at this point but I think it has to be seen as a wider part of US nuclear policy that's been stretching out for decades now, trying to come up with ways to justify the existence of some of the US' existing nuclear arsenal and looking for ways to create new weapons. We've been getting reports that there have been some rather peculiar, high altitude jet forays between China and Japan, some Japanese jets tailing Chinese jets, basically playing high altitude games of cat and mouse, possibly reigniting another territorial dispute.
So I think it really only serves to put a match next to this powder keg that is the Asia-Pacific region, especially now that this really is heating up and that the American is turning here, we're going to see more and more of these types of situations come along that could justify even further military intervention. According to The Sunday Times newspaper, Saudi Arabia already gave Israel the green light to use its airspace in the case of an attack on Iran. Exact terms on offer from both sides have not been made public, but no agreement was made last weekend. The latest reports suggest that maintenance at Koeberg nuclear power station will be ongoing until May at least, and that we remain at risk of rolling blackouts until then. Go apoplectic with rage over the incompetence of Eskom, and end up giving yourself an aneurysm, or embrace the punk rock, DIY make mindset and come up with a contingency plan of your own (even better, why not work one out with your neighbours?). Now’s the time to work out how to keep your tech turned on, so you can carry on enjoying HD Netflix while all around is dark.
A DIY solar set-up gives you a modicum of energy independence for now and the foreseeable future, and will keep the essentials running at a fraction of the price.
These are basically big batteries which plug into the mains power, and have a power socket on the back. At home, he says, his laptop and gate motor have been running smoothly on solar power, with battery back-up for when it gets dark. So if you are connecting a router directly to a battery (or via a DC-DC converter, see below) and are missing one of the numbers, you can work out amps by taking the rated power (Watts) and dividing it by 12V. Cheap ones don’t regulate the charge to the battery correctly and either end up running the cells too flat or over charging them. Car batteries, for example, are big and heavy and not designed for the kind of deep discharge you need to keep your router up for a long time.

These are small and portable but carry enough charge to keep electronics going for plenty of time – exactly how much charge will be written on the side and expressed in amp hours (Ah) or milliamp hours (mAh).
These are slightly more expensive than traditional lead acid batteries, but they are far more reliable and will last years longer. The problem is, says Kurien, that almost all mains-powered electronics have a built in rectifier – which does exactly the same job in reverse. For anything that has a USB charging port or cameras or laptops, see if you can find a car charging kit. Anything that relies on a wallwart for power can probably be run directly from the battery. Get a variable step down transformer (aka DC-DC converter) that will convert the 12V out of the battery into exactly the right voltage and current flow for your gear first. You’ll get more if you’re brave enough to rewire the insides and go directly from solar to the monitor bypassing the inverter, but you’ll also run the risk of destroying your TV and voiding the warranty. Unlike a massive rooftop installation, you can add extra batteries and panels as you need or can afford. But this one took on far greater urgency, in part because White House officials believed there was a good chance that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel would decide to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, and the United States would be drawn into the hostilities that followed. It was intended as a follow-up to “Olympic Games,” the code name of a cyberattack by the United States and Israel that destroyed 1,000 centrifuges and temporarily disrupted production at Natanz, a far larger but less protected enrichment site. American generals began incorporating nuclear weapons into their war plans for protecting Europe or countering the Soviet Union in the 1950s, and in the last 15 years, they have made armed drones a central part of military efforts in Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere. This notice of change adds a Terrorism Incident Annex to the Federal Response Plan (FRP), which will be used to implement Presidential Decision Directive 39 (PDD-39). The confirmed presense of an explosive device or WMD capable of causing a significant destructive event, prior to actual injury or property loss. US intelligence estimates puts the Chinese nuclear arsenal at 300 but this study out of George Town in 2011 estimated that it could house as many as 3,000 nuclear warheads. So, for example, we have the B61-11 nuclear bunker busters with a 400 kiloton yield that they've been harboring and talking about for the better part of a decade now in relation to Iran and trying to bust through into Iran's underground nuclear facilities or alleged nuclear facilities. So we have to look at the types of nuclear rhetoric that is coming out right now as not necessarily an intent to strike soon, but [as something] to keep our eyes on as this rhetoric continues to ratchet up. The Saudis are furious and are willing to give Israel all the help it needs,” an unnamed diplomatic source told the paper. The battery is constantly charging, so that when the mains goes off whatever is plugged into the front carries on working without a blip. Kurien says that originally, he started playing with small solar panels and batteries because he works from home in an area notorious for lightning strikes.
They provide direct current (DC) electricity at a rate dependent on the panel size, the amount of sun and the conversion efficiency. Kurien’s advice, though, is to put a bracket on the wall at about shoulder height – that way you can move the panel easily if you want to use it elsewhere, and adjust the angle as you need too. These will usually be slightly exaggerated – the requirement should be a maximum, not the average draw. The first goes to the positive and negative terminals on the solar panel, and takes energy in. If you want to do the maths, you can work out how many amps each piece of kit draws and therefore how many Ah you need in storage. A cigarette lighter adapter that can wire onto a battery via a DC-DC converter (see below) will cost you R37 from Communica.
The wallwart is just a small rectifier and transformer designed to take mains electricity and turn it into low voltage DC power for whatever piece of kit is on the end of it, so you bypass this, and Communica also sells a wide variety of male plug ends, one of which will almost certainly fit the size and shape of the power in socket on your technology. Both of these, however require 240V mains power – even though modern screens are pretty energy efficient, you’ve got to factor in loss of power by running through an inverter to your capacity calculations. Kurien says that his next big plan is to switch out his mains powered light bulbs at home for 12V LED ones, and get all of his domestic lighting onto solar, for example. In the same way, cyberwarfare has become a standard element of the arsenal for what are now called “hybrid” conflicts.
So basically as part of the NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act] 2013 they're basically saying that now STRATCOM is going to have to issue a report to identify the potential problems involved in this and whether or not they'll be able to confront this with conventional or nuclear forces in the event that they actually need to take action.
Now they're just shifting that rhetoric over to the Asia-Pacific as part of this Asia-Pacific pivot. But get the set-up wrong and you may fry sensitive electronics in your TV or laptop, hurting your wallet if not your heart. His thinking was that if he could put his network connection and laptop on an independent power supply, he’d be able to keep working even if everything in the house was unplugged.
Less than 50% charge will see a build up of lead sulphate on the electrodes that’s almost impossible to remove, for example, and they can be expensive to replace. One amp hour is equivalent to connecting a piece of kit that draws one amp for sixty minutes. I think to a certain extent this is just to justify the existence of the US arsenal and to make sure that things like the new START - the strategic arms reduction treaty - basically gets scuttled before it gets off of the ground. And there's a lot in this new NDAA that really seeks to undermine the president's ability should he ever want to actually reduce the nuclear stockpile.
So I think the congress is definitely trying to get their foot in the door and stop any types of arms reductions before they can actually be implemented.

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