US conducted cyber attack on Iran in response to drone downing - report

2019-06-23 11:36

The United States launched cyber attacks against Iranian missile control systems and a spy network after Tehran downed an American surveillance drone, according to US media reports.

US president Donald Trump secretly authorised US Cyber Command to carry out a retaliatory attack on Iran, The Washington Post reported Saturday, shortly after the US president pledged to hit the Islamic republic with major new sanctions.

The attack crippled computers used to control rocket and missile launches, according to the Post, while Yahoo News said a spying group responsible for tracking ships in the Gulf was also targeted.

READ: Trump vows new Iran sanctions, Tehran warns US against attack

Tehran is yet to react to the reports, Iran's Fars news agency said on Sunday.

It added that it was "still not clear whether the attacks were effective or not", and suggested the US media reports were a "bluff meant to affect public opinion and regain lost reputation for the White House" following the downing of its drone.

Military strike

Trump called off a planned retaliatory military strike on Friday, saying the response wouldn't be "proportionate", with Tehran warning Washington that any attack would see its interests across the Middle East go up in flames.

The downing of the US drone came after a series of attacks on tankers in the congested shipping lanes of the Gulf, that Washington has blamed on Iran, exacerbated already-tense relations between the two countries.

Iran has denied responsibility for those attacks.

Trump, who spent Saturday huddling with his advisors at Camp David, initially told reporters that he was keen to be Iran's "best friend" - if the country agreed to renounce nuclear weapons.

"When they agree to that, they're going to have a wealthy country. They're going to be so happy, and I'm going to be their best friend," he told reporters.

Iran has denied seeking a nuclear weapon, and says its programme is for civilian purposes.

A multinational accord reached by Tehran and world powers in 2015 sought to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanctions relief.

But Trump left that agreement more than a year ago and has imposed a robust slate of punitive economic sanctions designed to choke off Iranian oil sales and cripple its economy - one he now plans to expand.

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