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Experts expect surge in cyber attacks from Iran following US withdrawal from nuclear deal

May 12, 2018, 7:10 UTC+3 NEW YORK

According to the newspaper, researchers at CrowdStrike, the security firm, warned customers that they had seen a ‘notable’ shift in Iranian cyber activity

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© Sergey Konkov/TASS

NEW YORK, May 12. /TASS/. Cyber security experts expect a surge in cyber attacks from Iran following the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, The New York Times wrote.

According to the newspaper, "within 24 hours of Mr. Trump announcing on Tuesday that the United States would leave the deal, researchers at CrowdStrike, the security firm, warned customers that they had seen a ‘notable’ shift in Iranian cyber activity." "Iranian hackers were sending emails containing malware to diplomats who work in the foreign affairs offices of United States allies and employees at telecommunications companies in an attempt to infiltrate their computer systems," The New York Times added.

The newspaper went on to say that "Iranian hackers have in recent years demonstrated that they have an increasingly sophisticated arsenal of digital weapons. But since the nuclear deal was signed three years ago, Iran’s Middle Eastern neighbors have usually been those hackers’ targets." "Now cyber security experts believe that target list could quickly expand to include businesses and infrastructure in the United States. Those concerns grew more urgent Thursday after Israeli fighter jets fired on Iranian military targets in Syria, in response to what Israel said was a rocket attack launched by Iranian forces," the New York Times said.

"Until today, Iran was constrained," James Lewis, an expert at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said as cited by the newspaper. "They weren’t going to do anything to justify breaking the deal. With the deal’s collapse, they will inevitably ask, ‘What do we have to lose?’" he added.

Iran nuclear deal issue

In 2015, Iran and six major powers (five member states of the United Nations Security Council - Russia, the United States, France, the United Kingdom and China - and Germany) agreed on the final Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) for the Iranian nuclear program, which particularly stipulates the removal of sanctions imposed on Tehran over its nuclear program.

US President Donald Trump has many times criticized the deal accusing Iran of violating it. He particularly said that it was "one of the most incompetently drawn deals" that he had ever seen.

On May 8, Trump announced Washington’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, which imposed restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear activities in return for the removal of the United Nations Security Council’s sanctions and unilateral US sanctions. According to Trump, the JCPOA left the door open for Iran to circumvent restrictions and develop a nuclear bomb. The US president said that old sanctions would be restored and new ones would be introduced in case Tehran attempted to pursue its nuclear ambitions. At the same time, Trump called for making a new agreement.

In the wake of Trump’s decision, the leaders of Great Britain, Germany and France - Theresa May, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron - called on other participants in the deal to continue fulfilling it. High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini also called for maintaining the agreement. Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Tehran will not abandon the JCPOA and would continue to comply with its obligations. Russia’s Foreign Ministry pointed out that Moscow was disappointed by Washington’s move and said it was a cover for settling political scores with Tehran.

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