Fri, 19 Jul 2019

U.S. news outlets are reporting that the United States launched cyberattacks against Iranian military computer systems on June 20, hours after Iran downed a U.S. surveillance drone.

The Washington Post and AP, citing unnamed U.S. officials, on June 22 reported that the strikes were conducted with the approval of President Donald Trump.

U.S. defense officials refused to confirm the reports.

The cyberattacks came as Trump first approved, then canceled, a more conventional military strike on several sites within Iran, saying the response would not be 'proportionate' and would lead to the loss of Iranian military and civilian lives.

Trump instead has said the United States will impose new sanctions on Iran on June 24, without providing details.

But Trump, along with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, also appeared to ease off recent harsh language toward Tehran.

The president said he was open to quickly reaching a deal with Iran that he said would help the country rebound from a devastating economic crisis largely caused by U.S. financial restrictions.

If Tehran would renounce nuclear weapons, Trump said he would become the country's "best friend" and would help "make Iran great again.''

Pompeo said in a statement on June 22 that "when the Iranian regime decides to forgo violence and meet our diplomacy with diplomacy, it knows how to reach us,' he said.

'Until then, our diplomatic isolation and economic pressure campaign against the regime will intensify.'

The Washington Post reported that Trump authorized U.S. Cyber Command to attack Iranian military computers following the June 20 downing of the U.S. drone by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Tehran has said the drone was flying over its territory, while the Pentagon says it was over international waters when it was shot down.

AP cited two U.S. officials as saying the cyberattacks specifically targeted IRGC computer system.

The Post said the attack crippled computers used to control rocket and missile launches.

The Post and AP said the cyberattacks had been developed over the past several weeks as tensions increased between Washington and Tehran.

The United States blames Iran for attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. Iran denies any involvement.

With reporting by The Washington Post, AP, Reuters, and Yahoo News

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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