Oct 16, 2019

U.S. hits Iran with cyberattack following Saudi oil bombings

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. has allegedly carried out another cyberattack against Iran in the wake of attacks on Saudi oil facilities in September, two unnamed U.S. officials told Reuters.

Why it matters, per Axios' Joe Uchill: This is the second publicly revealed round of cyberattacks in response to real world attacks, after U.S. Cyber Command targeted Iran following the downing of a U.S. drone in July. The U.S. and many of its allies have blamed Iran for the Saudi oil attacks, but Iran has vigorously denied the allegations.

What they're saying:

  • One official said the strike hit physical hardware, per Reuters.
  • Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi, Iran's minister of communications and information technology, denies the attack happened, telling Fars news agency: "They must have dreamt it."

The big picture: The U.S. strike "appears more limited" than other operations against Iran, per Reuters.

  • Iran has also engaged in cyberattacks. Earlier this month, an Iranian hacking group attempted to gain entry into email accounts associated with President Trump's reelection campaign.

Go deeper: Pompeo doubles down on claim of Iranian "act of war" in Saudi Arabia<br/>

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Pompeo warns of possible Iranian nuclear "breakout" as tensions escalate

Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised the possibility that Iran is preparing for "a rapid nuclear breakout" in a Thursday statement, highlighting the escalating crisis between Iran and the rest of the international community.

Why it matters: Since President Trump decided to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal last year and engage in a pressure campaign against the country, the Iranian government took steps to reduce their commitment to the 2015 deal.

Go deeperArrowNov 7, 2019

Iran to inject uranium gas in further break from nuclear deal

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks at parliament in the capital Tehran. Photo: Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced Tuesday Iran would "resume uranium enrichment" at its Fordow plant and begin injecting uranium gas into 1,044 centrifuges, Iranian state media reports.

Why it matters: The announcement coincided with the first anniversary of the Trump administration's "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran. Axios contributor Barak Ravid notes the announced plans are a substantial breach of Iran's nuclear deal.

Go deeperArrowNov 5, 2019

Expanding U.S. pressure campaign on Iran could reach a tipping point

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (C) on stage with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Photo: Iranian Religious Leader Press Office/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Tuesday marks the first anniversary of the Trump administration's "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran, which escalated further last week with new State Department findings that link the country's construction sector to its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Why it matters: The maximum pressure policy has undoubtedly hurt Iran's economy, but it risks becoming a victim of its own success if dried-up revenues spark Iran to lash out further. While Washington has mostly avoided open conflict thus far, following that path may be harder as Iran grows more defiant.

Go deeperArrowNov 4, 2019