Iran and USA in tense standoff ahead of new sanctions

25 Juin, 2019, 18:33 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton gives statements to media in Jerusalem Sunday

Further sanctions are due to be announced on Monday.

The U.S. president said he would be willing to sit down with Iranian officials to negotiate a deal.

The Washington Post said that after the drone shooting US President Donald Trump authorised US Cyber Command to carry out a retaliatory cyber attack on Iran.

Iran successfully prevented U.S. cyber-attacks that targeted its infrastructure, the country's information minister said after Washington was reported to have crippled Tehran's missile control sites with a retaliatory cyber-strike.

"We really do not know what (the new sanctions) are and what they want to target anymore, and also do not consider them to have any impact", he added.

Tensions have spiked in the Gulf since May, when the Trump administration revoked waivers on the import of Iranian oil, squeezing its economy a year after the US walked away from the landmark 2015 deal meant to prevent the Islamic Republic from developing a nuclear weapon.

After Iran shot down an unmanned U.S. drone last week the world is waiting for an American military response.

Trump, who has waged a "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran, has also said the U.S. is prepared to negotiate with the Islamic republic with "no preconditions".

"America's claim of readiness for unconditional negotiation is not acceptable with the continuation of threats and sanctions", Hesamodin Ashna, an advisor to Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, said Monday on Twitter.

The U.S. already has sanctioned more than 80% of Iran's economy, according to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. I am confident that at the very moment they're ready to truly engage with us we'll be able to begin these conversations.

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Pompeo spoke Sunday as he left Washington for Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, Sunni Arab allies that are alarmed by Shiite Iran's increasing assertiveness and are working to limit its influence in the region.

Zarif's statement came after Iran said it had shot down a US Global Hawk drone on Thursday for violating its airspace near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, which the United States denies.

"We're prepared to negotiate with no preconditions".

Britain, France, Germany and the European Union are signatories to the 2015 deal and Tehran wants the Europeans to shield Iran from the Trump administration's sanctions through a trade mechanism.

"Iran's continued pursuit of nuclear weapons; its threats to exceed the limits set in the failed nuclear deal in the coming days; its continuing buildup of menacing Quds Force capabilities in Syria and Iraq; its supply of sophisticated drones, missiles and other advanced weapons to hostile surrogate forces in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Afghanistan; and continued threat and acts of aggression against Israel, our allies in the Arabian Gulf and against United States personal and assets across the Middle East, are not signs of a nation seeking peace".

Iran has indeed been pegged for several destructive cyber-attacks over recent years, most notably the Shamoon attack of 2012 on Saudi state oil giant Saudi Aramco which is said to have wiped the hard drives of over 30,000 machines.

In recent weeks, hackers believed to be working for the Iranian government have targeted US government agencies, as well as sectors of the economy, including oil and gas, sending waves of spear-phishing emails, according to representatives of cyber-security companies CrowdStrike and FireEye, which regularly track such activity.

The Iranian telecommunications minister acknowledged that Iran has "been facing cyber terrorism - such as Stuxnet - and unilateralism - such as sanctions".

On Sunday US national security adviser John Bolton cautioned Iran against misinterpreting the last-minute cancellation.

"The Americans are asphyxiating Iran economically in order to force them to hold talks with them", Coville said.

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