Iran has been identified a country from whom the United States faces a “complex global foreign intelligence threat” by Daniel Coats, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), in a report to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) as part of their annual Worldwide National Threat Assessment on May 11, 2017.
While in April, Iranian hackers,“OILRIG”, attempted a cyber espionage operation against Israeli entities, which was confirmed by the Israeli Cyber Defense Authority.
Recently in Germany, a Pakistani national, operating on Iran’s behalf was sentenced to four years for spying on behalf of the Iranian Quds Force, a branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). His motives were to support terrorist entities looking to attack France and Germany.
In 2016, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) charged seven Iranians working for the IRGC with cyber-attacks against the US and accessing the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems of the Bowman Dam, in New York.
The main concerns expressed by the DNI is that Iran will:
• disrupt military communications and navigation
• build its nuclear weapons programme
• attempt to infiltrate the intelligence communities of the USA and its allies
• circumvent sanctions by hacking US companies and research institutions
This is why the DOJ has been issuing substantial penalties in response to any actions, including jail sentences for any attempting to violate the sanctions on Iran.
Chinese firm ZTE pled guilty to violating US sanctions and had to pay a fine of nearly $900,000 to the US government for sending US-origin items to Iran. A further fine of $300,000,000 has been suspended but will be reinstated should ZTE violate the sanctions again.
Singaporean citizen, Lim Yong Nam was sentenced to 40 months in prison for his role in illegally exporting radio frequency modules to Iran, which were found in unexploded improvised explosive devices (IED) in Iraq.
Track Persia summarises: “In sum, Iran is anything but a toothless entity. They have teeth and a deadly bite. Their agenda goes beyond simple extraction of data. They are using their resources, as evidenced by the German conviction of the Pakistani national for lethal actions. In addition, the US intelligence and defence communities are both hitting the klaxon hard and loud highlighting the threat posed by Iran.”
They advise that the Americans and the rest of the world must learn their lessons and work to ensure that this does not happen again.