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Cyber Pressure on Iran

An explosion of a nuclear bomb during a test in New Mexico

By Kevin Coleman -- Defense Tech Cyberwarfare correspondent

Eight years of failed negotiations with Iran. Four rounds of ineffective UN sanctions against Ahmadinejad's regime. Now all of a sudden the Iranian leadership has said they want to negotiate.

What brought this on?

Last week at a cyber warfare conference, the notion that the Stuxnet attack may have been an instrument of foreign policy came up in multiple conversations. At the same time, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff called for discussions of cyber weapons and cyber warfare in the same framework as during the cold war, which was one of the longest and most costly foreign policy initiatives in history.

This situation is so different from that of the Cold War, one has to question the effectiveness of putting cyber weapons and conflict in the same context as the cold war. Just think about the difference between weapons of mass destruction -- specifically nuclear weapons, which were a high priority and top focus of the cold war -- and the more vague issues of cyber weapons.

Was the Stuxnet cyber assault an instrument of foreign policy by some country?  If so, was it what got Iran back to the table to negotiate?  It seems that former Secretary of DHS Chertoff is right – because during the cold war we focused on two areas, out-spending Russia and pressuring them to negotiate.

The big difference is, during the cold war, the United States arguably had the financial capabilities to do this.

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