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US launched 'cyber-attack' on Iran weapons systems in response to drone downing

The attack crippled computers used to control rocket and missile launches, according to the Washington Post.

Iran's advanced missile defence unveiled earlier this month
Iran's advanced missile defence unveiled earlier this month
Image: SalamPix/ABACA

THE UNITED STATES launched cyber attacks against Iranian missile control systems and a spy network after Tehran downed an American surveillance drone, according to US media.

The Washington Post newspaper reports that president Donald Trump secretly authorised US Cyber Command to carry out a retaliatory attack on Iran, shortly after the US president pledged to hit the Islamic republic with major new sanctions.

The attack crippled computers used to control rocket and missile launches, according to the Post, while Yahoo News said a spying group responsible for tracking ships in the Gulf was also targeted.

Tehran is yet to react to the reports, Iran’s Fars news agency said today.

It added that it was “still not clear whether the attacks were effective or not,” and suggested the US media reports were a “bluff meant to affect public opinion and regain lost reputation for the White House” following the downing of its drone.

Trump called off a planned retaliatory military strike on Friday, saying the response wouldn’t be “proportionate”, with Tehran warning Washington that any attack would see its interests across the Middle East go up in flames.

US National Security Advisor John Bolton yesterday warned Tehran against misinterpreting the last-minute cancellation.

“Neither Iran nor any other hostile actor should mistake US prudence and discretion for weakness,” he said ahead of a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

The downing of the US drone came after a series of attacks on oil tankers in the congested shipping lanes of the Gulf, that Washington has blamed on Iran, exacerbated already-tense relations between the two countries.

Iran has denied responsibility for those attacks.

‘Their best friend’

Trump, who spent Saturday with his advisors at Camp David, initially told reporters that he was keen to be Iran’s “best friend” but only if the country agreed to renounce nuclear weapons.

“When they agree to that, they’re going to have a wealthy country. They’re going to be so happy, and I’m going to be their best friend,” he told reporters.

Iran has denied seeking a nuclear weapon, and says its program is for civilian purposes. 

A multinational accord reached by Tehran and world powers in 2015 sought to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanctions relief.

But Trump left that agreement more than a year ago and has imposed a robust slate of punitive economic sanctions designed to choke off Iranian oil sales and cripple its economy – one he now plans to expand.

“We are putting major additional Sanctions on Iran on Monday,” tweeted Trump, who has also deployed additional troops to the Middle East.

“I look forward to the day that Sanctions come off Iran, and they become a productive and prosperous nation again – The sooner the better!”

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates has called for negotiations to defuse tensions between the US and Iran.

“Tensions in the Gulf can only be addressed politically,” Anwar Gargash, UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, wrote on Twitter.

He said the crisis in the Gulf region “requires collective attention, primarily to de-escalate and to find political solutions through dialogue and negotiations.”

“Regional voices (are) important to achieve sustainable solutions,” said Gargash.

© – AFP 2019 

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