Thursday, September 23, 2010
United Nations (CNN) -- Delegates from the United States and other nations walked out of the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered a fiery speech that criticized Washington, capitalism and the world body itself.
Though incendiary statements from Ahmadinejad are nothing new, tension in the hall grew as the Iranian leader recounted various conspiracy theories about the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
"Some segments within the U.S. government orchestrated the attack," Ahmadinejad told the General Assembly. He followed with the claim that the attacks were aimed at reversing "the declining American economy and its scripts on the Middle East in order to save the Zionist regime. The majority of the American people, as well as most nations and politicians around the world, agree with this view."
That appeared to be the last straw for many of the diplomats. Representatives from the United States, Britain, Sweden, Australia, Belgium, Uruguay and Spain walked out while Ahmadinejad asserted that U.S. government was involved in the attacks or allowed them to happen as an excuse to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
President Barack Obama already had delivered his address to the General Assembly and had left the grounds before Ahmadinejad spoke. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the president "found the comments to be outrageous and offensive, given how close we are to ground zero," the New York site of the attacks.
Mark Kornblau, a spokesman for the U.S. mission to the U.N., said in a statement, "Rather than representing the aspirations and goodwill of the Iranian people, Mr. Ahmadinejad has yet again chosen to spout vile conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic slurs that are as abhorrent and delusional as they are predictable."
A European Union diplomat said that all 27 member nations had agreed to walk out if Ahmadinejad made inflammatory statements during his address.
The exits did not deter the Iranian leader from his line of attack, however. Ahmadinejad went on to compare the death toll in the September 11 attacks to the casualty count in the wars in Afghanistan
"It was said that some 3,000 people were killed on September 11th, for which we are all very saddened," he said. "Yet, up until now in Afghanistan and Iraq, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, millions wounded and displaced, and the conflict is still going on and expanding."
Ahmadinejad also continued the attack on capitalism that he began during a Monday address at the Millennium Global Development Summit. He linked the U.S.-led conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan with wars for colonial expansion in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
The Iranian president also touched on the recent controversy over a Florida pastor's plans to burn copies of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, by waving copies of a Bible and a Quran as he declared his respect and reverence for both. And he concluded his address with a defense of Iran's nuclear ambitions, discussing a recently submitted statement to the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.
New York (CNN) -- They journeyed to New York from faraway places, they said, to give voice to those who are silenced in their homeland.
They wanted to stand their ground before the United Nations, where Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was addressing the General Assembly.They called the Iranian president a terrorist. And a murderer.
"Azadi! Azadi!" they roared in Farsi. Freedom.
"Hazer! Hazer!" they chanted. Ready.
"We are ready for change," Moslem Filabi, a former Iranian wrestling champion, told the protesters gathered across the street from the United Nations at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza.
One of them was Fateh Khazri, who said her father was imprisoned in Iran for alleged ties to dissidents. She had traveled from London, England, to state her opinion.
"Ahmadinejad is a terrorist. Ahmadinejad is a murderer. He must leave Iran," she said.
Mahyar Harsini came from Cologne, Germany. "People in our country, they don't have a voice," Harsini said. "We are here to talk for them because they are not able to."
The protest organizers, a coalition of Iranian-American groups who have gathered each time Ahmadinejad has visited the United Nations, are broadcasting the protest over satellite television and on the internet, allowing people in Iran to see the opposition to the Iranian regime.
"How can America let such a person into this place?" wondered Kamal Bayog of Luxembourg. "He must be expelled from the U.N."
Some demonstrators wore hats embroidered with the slogan, "Viva Rajavi" and carried pictures of Maryam Rajavi, leader of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, who lives in exile.
Purple flags and balloons supporting Rajavi's opposition floated overhead as she addressed the rally via satellite from Paris, France.
"I urge the U.N. to condemn the Iranian regime and their crimes, the worst humanitarian crimes," she said. "Those of you here are the brave ones representing Iran. Ahmadinejad is the enemy of Iran."
The crowd responded: "Rajavi, yes. Ahmadinejad, no."
Other demonstrators wore bloodied prison uniforms and nooses around their necks, symbols of the repression under the Islamic regime, they said. One woman sat surrounded by stones, used in Iran as a method of execution.
Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani also addressed the crowd. "You and your cause," he said, "are the best hope for Iran."
Posted by Steve Douglass at 7:26 PM
BBC: One of the most sophisticated pieces of malware ever detected was probably targeting "high value" infrastructure in Iran, experts have told the BBC.
Stuxnet's complexity suggests it could only have been written by a "nation state", some researchers have claimed.
It is believed to be the first-known worm designed to target real-world infrastructure such as power stations, water plants and industrial units.
It was first detected in June and has been intensely studied ever since.
"The fact that we see so many more infections in Iran than anywhere else in the world makes us think this threat was targeted at Iran and that there was something in Iran that was of very, very high value to whomever wrote it," Liam O'Murchu of security firm Symantec, who has tracked the worm since it was first detected, told BBC News.
Continue reading the main story
Spies 'infiltrate US power grid'
Can governments win a cyber-war?
Some have speculated that it could have been aimed at disrupting Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant or the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz.
However, Mr O'Murchu and others, such as security expert Bruce Schneier, have said that there was currently not enough evidence to draw conclusions about what its intended target was or who had written it.
India and Indonesia have also seen relatively high infection rates, according to Symantec.
Stuxnet was first detected in June by a security firm based in Belarus, but may have been circulating since 2009.
Unlike most viruses, the worm targets systems that are traditionally not connected to the internet for security reasons.
Instead it infects Windows machines via USB keys - commonly used to move files around - infected with malware.
Once it has infected a machine on a firm's internal network, it seeks out a specific configuration of industrial control software made by Siemens.
The worm searches out industrial systems made by Siemens
Once hijacked, the code can reprogram so-called PLC (programmable logic control) software to give attached industrial machinery new instructions.
"[PLCs] turn on and off motors, monitor temperature, turn on coolers if a gauge goes over a certain temperature," said Mr O'Murchu.
"Those have never been attacked before that we have seen."
If it does not find the specific configuration, the virus remains relatively benign.
However, the worm has also raised eyebrows because of the complexity of the code used and the fact that it bundled so many different techniques into one payload.
"There are a lot of new, unknown techniques being used that we have never seen before," he said These include tricks to hide itself on PLCs and USB sticks as well as up to six different methods that allowed it to spread.
In addition, it exploited several previously unknown and unpatched vulnerabilities in Windows, known as zero-day exploits.
"It is rare to see an attack using one zero-day exploit," Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at security firm F-Secure, told BBC News. "Stuxnet used not one, not two, but four."
He said cybercriminals and "everyday hackers" valued zero-day exploits and would not "waste" them by bundling so many together.
Microsoft has so far patched two of the flaws.
Mr O'Murchu agreed and said that his analysis suggested that whoever had created the worm had put a "huge effort" into it.
"It is a very big project, it is very well planned, it is very well funded," he said. "It has an incredible amount of code just to infect those machines."
Continue reading the main story
There have been no instances where production operations have been influenced or where a plant has failed”
His analysis is backed up by other research done by security firms and computer experts.
"With the forensics we now have it is evident and provable that Stuxnet is a directed sabotage attack involving heavy insider knowledge," said Ralph Langer, an industrial computer expert in an analysis he published on the web.
"This is not some hacker sitting in the basement of his parents' house. To me, it seems that the resources needed to stage this attack point to a nation state," he wrote.
Mr Langer, who declined to be interviewed by the BBC, has drawn a lot of attention for suggesting that Stuxnet could have been targeting the Bushehr nuclear plant.
In particular, he has highlighted a photograph reportedly taken inside the plant that suggests it used the targeted control systems, although they were "not properly licensed and configured".
Mr O'Murchu said no firm conclusions could be drawn.
However, he hopes that will change when he releases his analysis at a conference in Vancouver next week.
"We are not familiar with what configurations are used in different industries," he said.
Instead, he hopes that other experts will be able to pore over their research and pinpoint the exact configuration needed and where that is used.
A spokesperson for Siemens, the maker of the targeted systems, said it would not comment on "speculations about the target of the virus".
He said that Iran's nuclear power plant had been built with help from a Russian contractor and that Siemens was not involved.
"Siemens was neither involved in the reconstruction of Bushehr or any nuclear plant construction in Iran, nor delivered any software or control system," he said. "Siemens left the country nearly 30 years ago."
Siemens said that it was only aware of 15 infections that had made their way on to control systems in factories, mostly in Germany. Symantec's geographical analysis of the worm's spread also looked at infected PCs.
"There have been no instances where production operations have been influenced or where a plant has failed," the Siemens spokesperson said. "The virus has been removed in all the cases known to us."
He also said that according to global security standards, Microsoft software "may not be used to operate critical processes in plants".
It is not the first time that malware has been found that affects critical infrastructure, although most incidents occur accidentally, said Mr O'Murchu, when a virus intended to infect another system accidently wreaked havoc with real-world systems.
In 2009 the US government admitted that software had been found that could shut down the nation's power grid.
And Mr Hypponen said that he was aware of an attack - launched by infected USB sticks - against the military systems of a Nato country.
"Whether the attacker was successful, we don't know," he said.
Mr O'Murchu will present his paper on Stuxnet at Virus Bulletin 2010 in Vancouver on 29 September. Researchers from Kaspersky Labs will also unveil new findings at the same event.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 7:18 AM
CNN) -- The architect of North Korea's nuclear arms program has been promoted to vice premier of the country's Cabinet, state-run media said on Thursday.
Kang Sok Ju, a close confidant of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, has engineered the development of the North's nuclear program for nearly two decades. International concerns about the North's nuclear capabilities have led to harsh economic sanctions against the secretive communist country.
Kang's promotion comes ahead of a rare meeting of the ruling Korean Workers' Party next week, which might set the stage for the handover of power from Kim Jong Il to his youngest son.
The official Korean Central News Agency also said Thursday that the North's top arms negotiator, Kim Kye Gwan, was promoted to first vice minister of foreign affairs. He takes over Kang's old job.
Kim has been North Korea's lead representative in the six-nation talks over the North's nuclear arms program.
KCNA also said Thursday that Ri Yong Ho was appointed vice minister of foreign affairs. Ri has been another key negotiator in the six-nation nuclear talks.
Speculation is rampant that North Korea's political leaders are working to set the stage for a possible handover of power from Kim Jong Il to his son Kim Jong Un.
The North has said that its ruling party will meet on September 28, after last convening its delegates more than four decades ago.
Analysts think succession plans have accelerated in North Korea because the elder Kim, 68, is in poor health after suffering a stroke.
Under the elder Kim's leadership, the North has poured money into its military, nuclear and missile programs while its people have gone hungry.
North Korea has acknowledged producing roughly 40 kilograms of enriched plutonium -- enough for about seven nuclear bombs, according to the U.S. State Department.
The six-nation nuclear talks involve the United States, North Korea, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia. Dialogue halted last year after the U.N. Security Council condemned North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket, saying it violated a resolution banning ballistic missile testing. The North expelled U.S. nuclear experts and U.N. nuclear inspectors after the rebuke.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 7:01 AM