Archive for November 5, 2018

U.S. reimposes sanctions, targeting Iran’s oil and Banking sectors – TV7 Israel News 5.11.18 – YouTube

November 5, 2018

 

 

Iran claims to thwart Israeli cyberattack

November 5, 2018

Source: Iran claims to thwart Israeli cyberattack | The Times of Israel

Information minister says a regime with ‘a record of using cyber weapons’ attempted to damage communication infrastructure but ‘returned empty-handed’

File: An Iranian worker at the Uranium Conversion Facility at Isfahan, 410 kilometers south of Tehran, January 2014. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

File: An Iranian worker at the Uranium Conversion Facility at Isfahan, 410 kilometers south of Tehran, January 2014. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Iran accused Israel on Monday of launching a failed cyberattack against its communications systems.

“A regime whose record in using cyber weapons is clear from cases such as Stuxnet has tried this time to damage Iran’s communication infrastructure,” said Information Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi on his Twitter account.

He was referring to the Stuxnet virus, discovered in 2010 and believed to have been engineered by Israel and the United States, which damaged nuclear facilities in Iran.

“Thanks to vigilance of the technical teams, they returned empty-handed. We will follow up this hostile action through international forums,” Jahromi said.

Iran’s communications minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi speaks in a TV interview on August 13, 2017. (screen capture: YouTube)

His deputy, Hamid Fattahi, said technical teams had intercepted multiple attempts to infiltrate their systems early on Monday, which had been “strongly warded off.”

Last Wednesday, an Israeli TV report said that Iranian infrastructure and strategic networks had come under attack in the preceding few days by a computer virus similar to Stuxnet but “more violent, more advanced and more sophisticated,” but that Israeli officials ere refusing to discuss what role, if any, they may have had in the operation.

The report came hours after Israel said its Mossad intelligence agency had thwarted an Iranian murder plot in Denmark, and two days after Iran acknowledged that President Hassan Rouhani’s cellphone had been bugged. It also follows a string of Israeli intelligence coups against Iran, including the extraction from Tehran in January by the Mossad of the contents of a vast archive documenting Iran’s nuclear weapons program, and the detailing by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the UN in September of other alleged Iranian nuclear and missile assets inside Iran, in Syria and in Lebanon.

“Remember Stuxnet, the virus that penetrated the computers of the Iranian nuclear industry?” the report on Israel’s Hadashot news asked. Iran “has admitted in the past few days that it is again facing a similar attack, from a more violent, more advanced and more sophisticated virus than before, that has hit infrastructure and strategic networks.”

The Iranians, the TV report went on, are “not admitting, of course, how much damage has been caused.”

On Sunday, Gholamreza Jalali, the head of Iran’s civil defense agency, said Tehran had neutralized a new version of Stuxnet, Reuters reported.“Recently we discovered a new generation of Stuxnet which consisted of several parts … and was trying to enter our systems,” Jalali said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech on an archive brought out of Iran by the Mossad that documents Iran’s nuclear program, at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv on April 30, 2018. (AFP/Jack Guez)

The Stuxnet virus was uncovered some eight years ago, and was widely reported to have been developed together by US and Israeli intelligence. It penetrated Iran’s rogue nuclear program, taking control and sabotaging parts of its enrichment processes by speeding up its centrifuges.

Netanyahu is adamant that the Iranian regime remains determined to attain a nuclear weapons arsenal, and has bitterly opposed the P5+1 powers’ 2015 deal with Iran. US President Donald Trump, with whom Netanyahu is closely allied, withdrew from the accord in May.

Yossi Cohen, the head of the Mossad, is seen in a committee meeting at the Israeli parliament on December 8, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Referring to Stuxnet, Wednesday’s TV report noted that “in the past, the US and Israel have been alleged to have worked together on operations.” Trying to establish whether Israel had any role in the latest cyberattack, the TV report said: “We’ve tried to clarify here. They’re refusing to comment.”

The report noted that “behind the scenes lately, the Mossad,” under its director Yossi Cohen, has been “fighting a real shadow war.”

Without attributing responsibility to the Mossad, the report mentioned the tapping of Rouhani’s phone, noting that the Iranians “had to switch it for an encrypted model because they understand that someone has been listening to him for days and weeks.”

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Screen capture: Khamenei.ir)

On Sunday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged intensified efforts to counter enemy “infiltration,” Reuters said.

In a speech to officials in charge of cyber defense, Khamenei said: “In the face of the enemy’s complex practices, our civil defense should… confront infiltration through scientific, accurate, and up-to-date… action,” the report said, quoting Iranian state TV.

Earlier Wednesday, Israeli officials said the Mossad provided its Danish counterpart with information concerning an alleged plot by Tehran to assassinate three Iranian opposition figures living in the Scandinavian country. According to the officials, the Mossad gave Denmark information about a plot to kill three Iranians suspected of belonging to the anti-regime Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz.

The intelligence reportedly provided by the Mossad prompted the arrest of a Norwegian national of Iranian origin earlier this month. Denmark on Tuesday recalled its ambassador to Iran over the incident.

“What Iran hides, Israel will find,” Netanyahu declared in his September UN speech.

Agencies contributed to this report.

 

Iran launches defense drill as US reinstates sanctions 

November 5, 2018

Source: Iran launches defense drill as US reinstates sanctions – Israel Hayom

 

Painting Iran into a corner 

November 5, 2018

Source: Painting Iran into a corner – Israel Hayom

Yoav Limor

The U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran as of Monday are ‎an additional, vital step in the West’s long ‎struggle to curb the ayatollah regime’s nuclear, ‎territorial and religious aspirations. ‎

This battle has been going on for more than two ‎decades at a changing pace, combining a variety of ‎economic, diplomatic, operational, and media-oriented measures. Throughout this period, Iran has ‎repeatedly defied and defrauded the international ‎community and has only suspended its nuclear work ‎twice: after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, and ‎with the formulation of the nuclear agreement in ‎‎2015‎‏.‏

In both cases, Iran’s leaders felt the noose ‎was tightening around their necks and sought to ‎ensure the regime’s survival. In 2003, Iran believed ‎that after the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq it ‎would be next, and in 2015, it really only agreed to ‎the nuclear deal when the vast economic sanctions ‎threatened to completely overwhelm the Iranian ‎economy.‎

This is also the undeclared goal of the current ‎round of sanctions: to push the Iranian leadership ‎into a corner and force it to make different ‎decisions.

There are those in the United States and ‎Israel that hope that the growing economic pressure ‎in Iran will topple the regime but, despite recent unrest on the ‎street, that scenario ‎seems far-fetched.  The Islamic republic is strong, and the ‎current momentum is not enough to rattle it. ‎

The new round of sanctions is different from those that ‎were imposed up to 2015, as they are solely ‎American. Europe, Russia and China have not joined ‎the American efforts, which therefore cannot ‎encompass the Iranian banking sector as a whole. ‎

It is likely that Iran will try to maintain its ‎economy in the near future on the basis of cash ‎transactions and foreign currency, all ‎while looking for loopholes or partners that will ‎enable its economic survival.‎

This, however, is a tall order. The European effort ‎to formulate ways to bypass the American sanctions ‎is likely to fail because it is doubtful that any ‎Western company would prefer to deal with Iran over ‎the U.S. On the other hand, Russia has the potential ‎to undermine the American effort if it agrees to ‎export Iranian oil and deliver the proceeds in cash. ‎

Still, even this type of move would fall grossly ‎short of saving the Iranian economy, which has yet ‎to recover for the crippling, pre-2015 sanctions. ‎

As always, it is the Iranian citizens who will pay ‎the price. Washington and Jerusalem hope that the ‎sanctions will affect wider circles supported by the ‎Tehran, namely Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in ‎the Gaza Strip, and the Houthi rebels in Yemen. ‎

This will not happen automatically and without a ‎clash between extremists and moderates in Iran, but ‎the ayatollahs will soon have to decide between ‎their desire to export the Islamic Revolution or ‎investing their resources domestically to appease ‎the Iranian people.‎

This is good news for Israel. If Iran opts for the ‎path of war, it would expose its true colors even to ‎the biggest skeptics. If it opts to withdraw, its ‎regional proxies would become less of a threat, as ‎reducing terrorism financing means fewer weapons, ‎less training and, as a result, diminished ‎motivation to embark on war-like adventures. ‎

Tehran most likely hopes to weather the storm ‎until such time as a new American president is ‎elected, but its ability to do so is doubtful. This ‎will force the ayatollahs to choose between ‎violating the 2015 deal completely and – based on ‎the North Korean precedent – make a mad dash for a ‎nuclear weapon in hopes that it would grant it ‎immunity, or negotiate a less convenient agreement ‎that would allow its economy to recover. ‎

As far as Israel is concerned, such an agreement ‎must be far broader than the one devised in 2015. It ‎would have to include not only the nuclear program, ‎but also significant restrictions on the development ‎of long-range ballistic missiles and Iran’s ‎involvement in terrorism and the destabilization of ‎the Middle East. ‎

To date, talks of such negotiations have proved ‎nothing but rumors, but it is likely that ‎intermediaries will soon emerge to promote the idea. ‎The more pressure Tehran feels over the new U.S. ‎sanctions, the more eager it will be to reach a ‎compromise to lift them.

 

Iran president warns of war situation as sanctions resume

November 5, 2018

Source: Iran president warns of war situation as sanctions resume

As US sanctions snap back, Revolutionary Guard and the Islamic Republic’s national army launch two-day military maneuvers in the country’s north; ‘We are in the economic war situation. We are confronting a bullying enemy. We have to stand to win,’ says President Rouhani.
The sanctions end all the economic benefits America granted Tehran for its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, though Iran for now continues to abide by the accord that saw it limit its enrichment of uranium. While for now not threatening to resume higher enrichment, Iranian officials in recent months have made a point to threaten that could resume at any time faster than before.The new American sanctions particularly hurt Iran’s vital oil industry, a crucial source of hard currency for its anemic economy. Its national currency has plummeted over the last year, sending prices for everything from mobile phones to medicine skyrocketing.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (Photo: AFP)

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani (Photo: AFP)

“Today, Iran is able to sell its oil, and it will sell,” Rouhani vowed Monday as the sanctions kicked in.

Iranian state television aired footage of air defense systems and anti-aircraft batteries in two-day military maneuvers underway across a vast stretch of the country’s north. It included surface-to-air missiles shooting down a drone.

The drill was to continue through Tuesday. Iranian army Gen. Habibillah Sayyari said both the national army and the country’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard were taking part in the exercise.

Rouhani, meanwhile, pledged to government officials in comments aired on state TV that Iran would overcome the sanctions.

“We are in the war situation, ” Rouhani said. “We are in the economic war situation. We are confronting a bullying enemy. We have to stand to win.”

Iran launches two-day military drill

Iran launches two-day military drill

He further stepped up the rhetoric, comparing Iran’s situation in the 1980s war against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein with the current one and President Donald Trump’s move to reinstate US sanctions.

“Yesterday, Saddam was in front of us, today Trump is front of us. There is no difference. We must resist and win,” he said.

Iran is already in the grip of an economic crisis. Its national currency, the rial, now trades at 145,000 to one US dollar, down from when it traded 40,500 to $1 a year ago. The economic chaos sparked mass anti-government protests at the end of last year which resulted in nearly 5,000 reported arrests and at least 25 people being killed. Sporadic demonstrations still continue.

Rouhani separately said leaders from “four powers” met with Iran on the sidelines of the September meeting of the United Nations General Assembly to try to save the deal, including brokering a possible meeting with Trump. He did not name those countries, but was likely referring to China, France, Russia and Britain, which along with Germany made up the world powers involved in the 2015 nuclear deal.

“This issue does not require a mediator,” Rouhani said, blaming America for unilaterally pulling out of the accord.

Protests in Tehran to mark US Embassy takeover during 1979 Revolution (Photo: EPA)

Protests in Tehran to mark US Embassy takeover during 1979 Revolution (Photo: EPA)

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi also predicted the sanctions will actually work against America’s interests.

“Many countries from Europe to Russia and China have opposed the sanctions,” Ghasemi told journalists, adding that Iranians “have experienced more extensive sanctions” and that they are “not a new issue.”

The United States says the sanctions are not aimed at toppling the government, but at persuading it to radically change its policies, including its support for regional militant groups and its development of long-range ballistic missiles.

However, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and John Bolton, the president’s national security adviser, both have made public statements supporting overthrowing Iran’s theocratic government.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman welcomed the newly restored US sanctions in a tweet on Monday, saying they will deal a “critical blow” to Iran’s military presence around the Middle East.

The Trump administration’s decision to restore sanctions “is the sea change the Middle East has been waiting for,” he said.

Israel has been a fierce opponent of the 2015 nuclear deal from which the US withdrew in May, saying the accord failed to rein in Iran’s regional military threat.

 

Avigdor Liberman lauds ‘critical blow’ of renewed U.S. sanctions on Iran 

November 5, 2018

Source: Avigdor Liberman lauds ‘critical blow’ of renewed U.S. sanctions on Iran – Middle East – Jerusalem Post

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the country would continue to sell its oil, while Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said sanctions crippled the country’s presence in the region.

BY JERUSALEM POST STAFF, REUTERS
 NOVEMBER 5, 2018 09:04

DUBAI – Iran will sell its oil and break sanctions reimposed by the United States on its vital energy and banking sectors, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told economists at a meeting broadcast live on state television on Monday. In Israel, the news was welcomed as a “critical blow” to the country’s support of terror in the region.

“America wanted to cut to zero Iran’s oil sales … but we will continue to sell our oil … to break sanctions,” Rouhani said.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman praised the re-introduction of US sanction on Iran, calling the move a “critical blow” to Iranian presence in the Middle East.

“President Trump’s bold decision is the sea-change the Middle East has been waiting for. In a single move, the United States is dealing a critical blow to Iran’s entrenchment in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq and Yemen. President Trump, you’ve done it again! Thank you,” he wrote in English on Twitter.

אביגדור ליברמן

@AvigdorLiberman

President Trump’s bold decision is the sea-change the Middle East has been waiting for. In a single move, the United States is dealing a critical blow to Iran’s entrenchment in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq and Yemen. President Trump, you’ve done it again! Thank you.

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon welcomed the renewed US sanctions: “The sanctions policy is working and suffocating the Iranian regime – we see it on the ground, in the economy and in the fear of the regime,” Danon said in a statement.

Calling on the world to join the sanctions, Dannon added that “wherever there is terrorism, there is also an Iranian fingerprint. Therefore, Europe and other countries must join the United States in order to create a united front for the stability of the Middle East and the world at large. From today, the world will have to choose a side – the US or Iran.”

In May, US President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of world powers’ 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed a first round of sanctions on Iran in August.

The deal saw most international financial and economic sanctions on Iran lifted in return for Tehran curbing its disputed nuclear activity under UN surveillance.

“Today the enemy (the United States) is targeting our economy … the main target of sanctions is our people,” Rouhani said.

China, India, South Korea, Japan and Turkey – all top importers of Iranian oil – are among eight countries expected to be given temporary exemptions from the sanctions to ensure crude oil prices are not destabilized.

 

Iran accuses Israel of carrying out new cyber attack 

November 5, 2018

Source: Iran accuses Israel of carrying out new cyber attack – Middle East – Jerusalem Post

Iran’s Telecommunications minister accused Israel of targeting the country’s communications infrastructure.

BY ANNA AHRONHEIM
 NOVEMBER 5, 2018 14:00
Computer code and an Israeli flag

Iran’s Telecommunications minister accused Israel of a new cyber attack on the Islamic Republic, the same day US sanctions lifted by the 2015 nuclear deal were reimposed and just days after Iran said it had neutralized a new version of the Stuxnet virus.
In a series of tweets, Telecommunication Minister Mohammad Javad Azeri Jahromi blamed Israel for the attack, saying it targeted Iran’s communications infrastructure and said that Iran would sue for the cyber-attack via international bodies
.
“The Zionist regime, with its dark record of using cyber weapons such as Stuxnet computer virus, launched a cyber attack on Iran on Monday to harm the country’s communication infrastructures,” Jahromi said in a tweet on Monday, adding that “Thanks to the vigilance of (Iranian) technical teams, it (Israel) returned empty-handed.”
According to Iran’s Tasnim news agency, Jahromi’s deputy Hamid Fattahi said that more details of the alleged Israeli cyber strikes would be made public in the coming days.
Last week General Gholam Reza Jalali, head of country’s military unit in charge of combating sabotage, said that President Hassan Rouhani’s cell phone had been tapped, and that it would be replaced with a more secure device.
In response to the alleged bugging, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quoted by Iranian State TV as urging defense officials to step up counter-intelligence efforts against “the enemy’s complex practices,” and urged security bodies to “confront infiltration through scientific, accurate, and up-to-date action.”
According to a report by Iran’s semi-official ISNA’s report carried by Al Jazeera, Iran also neutralized a potent new version of the Stuxnet virus, which in 2011 destroyed thousands of centrifuges involved in Iran’s nuclear program.
While no country ever acknowledged being behind the attack, it was widely believed to have been carried out by the United States and Israel.
“Recently we discovered a new generation of Stuxnet, which consisted of several parts… and was trying to enter our systems,” Jalali was quoted by ISNA as saying.
The latest alleged cyber attacks came as the Trump administration re-imposed oil and financial sanctions against Iran, and added 300 new designations on the country’s oil, shipping, insurance and banking sectors.
“The Iran sanctions are very strong; they are the strongest sanctions we have ever imposed,” Trump said at a campaign rally for the midterm elections. “And we will see what happens with Iran, but they’re not doing very well, I can tell you.”
Israel’s defense minister welcomed the restored sanctions, saying in a tweet that they would be a “critical blow” to Iran’s military presence around the Middle East.

אביגדור ליברמן

@AvigdorLiberman

President Trump’s bold decision is the sea-change the Middle East has been waiting for. In a single move, the United States is dealing a critical blow to Iran’s entrenchment in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq and Yemen. President Trump, you’ve done it again! Thank you.

“President Trump’s bold decision is the sea-change the Middle East has been waiting for. In a single move, the United States is dealing a critical blow to Iran’s entrenchment in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq and Yemen,” he wrote. “President Trump, you’ve done it again! Thank you.”