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Iran Rejects US Cyberattacks Before New Sanctions

TEHRAN – Iran denied Monday that it had been hit by an American cyber-attack, while Washington was to tighten sanctions on Tehran in the stalemate created by the withdrawal of the US from a nuclear deal, AFP reported Monday.
Both countries said they want to avoid the war, but tensions have increased, a series of incidents, including tanker attacks and the felling of an American drone by Iran in the Gulf, have caused fear of an involuntary shift to the conflict.
The denial came when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Saudi Arabia for talks on tensions with Iran and was scheduled to visit the United Arab Emirates for similar talks.
US President Donald Trump canceled a retaliatory military strike on Friday after Iran said it had shot down a US surveillance drone the day before near the Hormuz Strait.
Tehran said the drone had violated Iran’s airspace and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had supported the complaint with maps and coordinated allegations rejected by Washington.
According to US media reports, Trump reportedly ordered a retaliatory cyber-attack against Iranian missile control systems and a spy ring after the drone was shot down.
But on Monday, Iran’s Minister of Telecommunications, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, said that no cyber-attack against his country had succeeded.
“The media question the veracity of the so-called cyber attack on Iran, no attack has been successful, although they make many efforts,” he said on Twitter.
He acknowledged that Iran “is confronted with cyber-terrorism – such as Stuxnet – and unilateralism – such as sanctions,” naming a virus that would have been designed by Israel and the United States to damage nuclear facilities in the future.
“We foiled last year not an attack but 33 million attacks with the Dejpha Shield,” said Azari Jahromi, referring to a new Internet defense system.
Iran warned last week that any US attack would see Washington’s interests in the Middle East ignite.
Speaking to reporters as he was leaving Washington, Pompeo called Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates “two great allies in the challenge of Iran.”
“We will discuss with them how to make sure we are all aligned on a strategic plan and how we can build a global coalition,” he said.
He reiterated Trump’s offer of dialogue aimed at improving relations with Iran, which the US administration has tried to isolate through harsh sanctions.
“We are ready to negotiate without preconditions, they know exactly how to find us,” he said.
Pompeo also described as “childish” a map published Sunday by the Iranian Foreign Minister, who claimed to show a spy drone encroaching on the airspace of the Islamic Republic at the end of May.
Trump, who spent Saturday huddling with his advisers, said he was ready to reach out to Iran if the country agreed to give up nuclear weapons.
“When they accept this, they will have a rich country, they will be so happy and I will be their best friend,” he told reporters.
Iran denied seeking a nuclear weapon and said its program was for civilian purposes.
With the exit of the US agreement, Iran said it would reduce some of its nuclear commitments if the remaining partners – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – did not help it to get around the American sanctions and sell his oil.
The historic nuclear deal of 2015 aimed to reduce Iran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for easing sanctions.
Trump left the deal more than a year ago and imposed a series of punitive economic sanctions aimed at stifling Iranian oil sales and paralyzing its economy – which it is now planning to expand.
“We will impose significant additional sanctions on Iran on Monday,” tweeted Trump, who has also deployed additional troops in the Middle East.
“I am looking forward to the day when sanctions will be withdrawn from Iran and they will become a productive and prosperous nation again – the sooner the better!”
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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