Sabotage of Iran’s nuclear program

11 January 2024 5 minutes Author: Newsman

The mission of a Dutch engineer in the shadow of the Iranian nuclear program

In 2007, Erik van Sabben, a Dutch engineer working for the AIVD, infiltrated Iran’s heavily guarded nuclear facility in Natang and carried out an incredibly difficult mission. The operation, carried out in cooperation with the US CIA and the Israeli Mossad, aimed to attack Iran’s nuclear program. However, not everything was transparent. The Americans were not forthcoming about the nature of the operation, so van Sabben was forced to carry it out. Now, several years later, the Dutch political community is demanding a retrospective explanation of the government’s actions. Why the engineer suddenly left Iran after the mission and later died tragically remains a mystery to the van Sabben family.

Erik van Sabben, an engineer and employee of the Dutch intelligence agency AIVD, was a key figure in the operation to delay Iran’s nuclear program. Van Sabben was chosen for his professional skills and ability to work under high pressure. His mission was to install equipment that eventually caused the failure of nearly 1,000 ultracentrifuges used to enrich uranium, delaying Iran’s nuclear program for several years.

The operation was billed as a new step in digital warfare, the introduction of a digital weapon that former CIA director Michael Hayden said “can’t be put back in the box.” At the time of Stuxnet’s launch in 2007, there were no international rules or regulations governing use of subversive viruses. It was the first time a digital weapon was used by a government to harm another country with geopolitical significance. Despite its success, the operation caused a political scandal in the Netherlands, with politicians demanding explanations and accountability for actions that could be classified as military actions.

Political oversight of the intelligence operation appeared to be insufficient, and questions arose as to whether senior officials were properly briefed on the dangers and possible consequences of the operation. After the operation, Erik van Sabben suddenly left Iran, which raised suspicions and questions among his family and colleagues. Two weeks later, he died tragically in Dubai. His death, officially recognized as an accident, gave rise to various conspiracy theories, especially among intelligence officials who feared a connection between his death and a secret mission in Iran.

The geopolitical twilight zone

Operation Stuxnet was not just an espionage operation, but an important step in the world of cyber security and international politics. The virus, developed jointly by American and Israeli intelligence services, was designed to covertly destroy Iranian centrifuges without physical intervention or open military conflict. This was a new stage in the development of cyber warfare, when attacks could be carried out from a distance without being detected.

Eric van Sabben is an engineer by education and an adventurer at heart. His work and contacts in the region made him an ideal candidate for the AIVD mission. Van Sabben is characterized as brave, determined and willing to take risks to complete the mission. His participation in the mission was part of a broader strategy to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, a goal that united many Western countries and their allies at the time.

According to sources, Van Sabben was not fully informed of all the details of the operation and the consequences it could lead to. After the story of Stuxnet became known, the world began to realize the reality and potential dangers of cyber warfare. This led to the creation of new cybersecurity rules and regulations that aimed to establish national borders in the digital space. However, the unfolding of the Stuxnet virus was a turning point that showed that digital attacks can be just as devastating as traditional military operations.


The story of Erik van Sabben and the Stuxnet operation opened a new page in the development of international relations and digital warfare. The death of the Dutch engineer raised many questions, to which his family is still looking for answers. The role he played in sabotaging Iran’s nuclear program and the consequences of that operation have profound implications for global security policy.

The international community is faced with the need to rethink its understanding of war and peace in cyberspace, and the Stuxnet operation symbolized a new era in which digital attacks can be as devastating as traditional military operations. She also emphasized the importance of transparency and political control over intelligence operations.

This incident highlights the importance of open dialogue between intelligence agencies and governments and the need for accountability to citizens. Investigative journalists continue to play an important role in uncovering the truth and ensuring democratic oversight of covert operations with far-reaching consequences.

The recent events surrounding the deaths of Stuxnet and van Sabben show that in a world where the lines between the digital and the physical are increasingly blurred, the distinction between responsibility and ethics is not just a moral issue, but a matter of state survival and citizen security.

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