October 2009 Issue: Cyber-Attacks, Russian Pipelines, & Twenty Years After The Wall Came Tumbling Down

Tuesday, 27 October 2009 00:00 Kevin Rosner
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Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin wall, NATO members are facing their own energy security challenges in the rapidly evolving world of energy geopolitics. Many of these challenges are posed by the Russian Federation within a European context, but the energy world often eclipses Russia with more persistent, viral threats. Chief among these concern Iran. On October 3rd The New York Times ran an article in which it concluded that Iran has "'sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable' atom bomb” based on a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The next day The Times of London reported in an article that, “Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has handed the Kremlin a list of Russian scientists believed by the Israelis to be helping Iran to develop a nuclear warhead. He is said to have delivered the list during a mysterious visit to Moscow.”  To give credit where credit is due, George Freedman put the pieces of this puzzle together, and then Ariel Cohen, a contributor to the Journal of Energy Security, provided a succinct analysis of their implications. If these allegations are true, the importance for the global security environment of a vastly accelerated Iranian nuclear program, and cooperation from Russian scientists in the process, goes well beyond the narrower boundaries of energy security. These developments deserve the attention of the global community and a discussion regarding how to respond to this threat.

Closer to home, this issue of the JES provides a mini-colloquium on cyber-threats on increasingly interconnected energy and power grids. A discussion of the Smart Grid in the United States is lead by David Baker at IOActive. Apparently with all the promise of the Smart Grid there are vulnerabilities that have been uncovered with the application of Smart Meters on the grid. Baker sorts out not only the threats stemming from this problem, but also the potential solutions. Frank Umbach and Uwe Nerlich from the German Centre for Energy Security Strategies give us a glimpse into the findings of their Octavio-Project, funded by the European Commission on cyber-warfare threats to European IT based energy networks. The backdrop against which these threats are transpiring is one of accelerating targeting of energy infrastructure, detailed by Jennifer Giroux and Caroline Hilpert who pursue energy security related research at Zurich, ETH’s Center for Security Studies in Switzerland. Within a European context, Edward Christie of the Vienna Institute of International Economics provides an outstanding, lucid analysis of Russian pipeline development across the European continent, and in doing so underscores the importance of European solidarity with Ukraine in energy transport. Not all is bleak however. Long time friend of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, Bruce Averill, provides a formula for creating public private partnerships to bridge the gulf between private industry security professionals and state apparatus that provide the overall security function for their oil and gas industries.

Best regards,

Kevin Rosner
Managing Editor, Journal of Energy Security