Iran says U.S. cyber attacks fail, hints
at possible talks
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[June 24, 2019]
By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin
LONDON (Reuters) - Iran said on Monday U.S.
cyber attacks on its military had been a failure, while also hinting
that it could be willing to discuss new concessions with Washington if
the United States were to lift sanctions and offer new incentives.
The longtime foes have come the closest in years to a direct military
confrontation. After Iran shot down a U.S. drone last week, U.S.
President Donald Trump said he had called off a retaliatory strike while
bombers were in the air, deciding that too many people would die.
U.S. media have reported that the United States launched cyber attacks
even as Trump called off the air strike. The Washington Post said on
Saturday that the cyber strikes, which had been planned previously, had
disabled Iranian rocket launch systems. U.S. officials have declined to
"They try hard, but have not carried out a successful attack," Mohammad
Javad Azari Jahromi, Iran's minister for information and communications
technology, said on Twitter.
"Media asked if the claimed cyber attacks against Iran are true," he
said. "Last year we neutralized 33 million attacks with the (national)
Allies of the United States have been calling for steps to defuse the
crisis, saying they fear a small mistake on either side could trigger
"We are very concerned. We don't think either side wants a war, but we
are very concerned that we could get into an accidental war and we are
doing everything we can to ratchet things down," British Foreign
Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.
The escalation began last year when the United States abandoned a 2015
agreement between Iran and world powers to curb Iran's nuclear program
in return for the lifting of sanctions. It accelerated sharply last
month when Trump tightened sanctions sharply, ordering all countries to
stop buying Iranian oil.
Recent weeks have seen the confrontation gain a military dimension, with
the United States blaming Iran for attacks on vessels at sea, which Iran
denies. Iran shot down the drone last week, saying it was in its air
space, which Washington disputes.
Washington also blames Iran for attacks on Saudi targets from Yemen,
where a Saudi-led alliance is fighting the Iran-backed Houthi group.
Washington argues that the 2015 nuclear agreement known as the JCPOA,
negotiated under Trump's predecessor Barack Obama, did not go far
enough, and that new sanctions are needed to force Iran back to the
table to make more concessions.
[to top of second column]
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech at the Conference
on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in
Dushanbe, Tajikistan June 15, 2019. REUTERS/Mukhtar Kholdorbekov/File
Throughout the escalation, both sides have suggested they are
willing to hold further talks but said the other side must first
alter its behavior. In the latest comment from Tehran, an adviser to
President Hassan Rouhani repeated a longstanding demand that
Washington lift sanctions in line with the deal.
But the adviser, Hesameddin Ashena, also tweeted a rare suggestion
that Iran could be willing to discuss new concessions, if Washington
were willing to put new incentives on the table that go beyond those
in the deal.
"If they want something beyond the JCPOA, they should offer
something beyond the JCPOA; with international guarantees."
Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, was quoted by ISNA
news agency as saying on Monday Tehran did not "want a rise of
tensions and its consequences".
Trump said on Sunday he was not seeking war with Iran and would be
prepared to seek a deal.
U.S. allies in Europe and Asia view the decision to abandon the
nuclear deal as a mistake, arguing that it strengthens hardliners in
Iran and weakens the pragmatic faction of Rouhani.
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 intended to shoot down the drone. However, an Iranian commander
said Tehran was prepared to do it again.
"Everyone saw the downing of the unmanned drone," navy commander
Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi was quoted on Sunday as saying by the
Tasnim news agency. "I can assure you that this firm response can be
repeated, and the enemy knows it."
Iranian media showed new images on Monday of what they described as
pieces of the wreckage of the downed drone, which they said were
recovered at sea by a fisherman off Iran's southern coast. Other
parts of the wreckage were displayed last week by Iran's
Revolutionary Guards in Tehran.
(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Writing by Peter Graff; Editing
by Jon Boyle)
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