DHS cyber director warns of surge in Iranian "wiper" hack attacks

Michael McCaul on

United States media reports said Trump ordered a retaliatory cyber attack against Iranian missile control systems and a spy network after the drone was shot down.

"The Trump Administration has already hit most or Iran's cash-earning exports and pushed the country into a deep recession this year", said Peter Harrell, a fellow at the Center for New American Security, a Washington-based research group. Tehran and the Houthis deny coalition charges that Iran supplies the Houthis with missiles and drones.

Pompeo said they also discussed the need to promote maritime security in the Strait of Hormuz, following attacks on oil tankers in Persian Gulf waters which Washington has blamed on Iran.

Days later, Iran shot down a US drone over the Strait of Hormuz, claiming it had violated Iran's air space.

Trump said he backed away from the planned strikes after learning that about 150 people would be killed, but he said the military option remained on the table. "Neither Iran nor any other hostile actor should mistake United States prudence and discretion for weakness".

Iran, crippled by existing United States sanctions that include the blocking of most of its crucial oil exports, sought to play down the USA move.

After Trump spoke, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appeared in the White House briefing room and said the sanctions would also hit the commander of Iran's air force, who he said is responsible for the shooting down of the unmanned, USA surveillance aircraft last week.

The cyber-attacks were carried out by US Cyber Command with the direct approval of US President Donald Trump, the Associated Press reported on Sunday, citing two inside sources, and confirming the report through a third Pentagon official.

The initial Reuters report last Friday cited two Iranian sources who said that the USA president had personally warned Tehran about an incoming attack, which Trump later claimed to have called off at the last minute.

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Washington and Riyadh have publicly accused Tehran of being behind the tanker attacks near the Strait of Hormuz. And then you go outside of the Middle East, and you take a look at what's happening with countries. "They're going to be so happy, and I'm going to be their best friend", he told reporters.

He added that they would "continue to increase pressure on Tehran", saying "never can Iran have a nuclear weapon".

Iran has threatened to break the limits set on its uranium stockpile by the deal in the coming days, if European powers don't find a way to circumvent US sanctions.

She said the higher official selling prices (OSPs) of Middle Eastern grades and rising spot premium are also pushing India to buy more USA oil.

The US also accuses Iran of encouraging allies in Yemen to attack Saudi targets.

"Freedom of navigation is paramount", Pompeo said on Twitter. "No one has granted them a hunting licence in the Middle East", Mr Bolton said during a visit to Israel. The chants, often repeated since the 1979 Islamic revolution which toppled the US-backed Shah, were heard weeks after Mr Trump said in a United States television interview: "They (Iranians) haven't screamed "death to America" lately".

Mnuchin said the sanctions would affect multiple other top officials in Iran's "chain of command" and would lock up billions more in Iranian assets.

Trump has suggested that he backed off the military strike against Iran in part because he was not sure the country's top leadership had meant to shoot down the drone.

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