Pepe Escobar: Pipelineistan — the Iran-Pak-China connection

IranPakistanPipeline

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has just been to Islamabad to talk serious business with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. And the serious business had to be Pipelineistan – as in what next for the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline.

Zarif essentially said that IP is a go – again – as soon as sanctions against Iran start to melt, by late 2015 or early 2016. Iran has already invested $2 billion in the Iranian stretch of IP, and China will finance the Pakistani stretch.

This is a major Pipelinestan gambit, as Asia Times has previously reported. And as a side note, as soon as IP goes online, all those years of incessant harassing by successive Bush and Obama administrations will finally come down to nought.

China West-East Gas Pipeline

Even before Zarif hit Pakistan something serious was going on in … Karamay. You may have not heard of Karamay, but this town in Xinjiang is right at the center of the Eurasian action; it has just hosted the 2015 China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Forum.

As we all know, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is an absolutely key component, worth $46 billion, of the China-driven New Silk Roads. CPEC will link Kashgar in Xinjiang to the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar via highways (essentially an upgrade of the fabled Karakoram Highway), railways, industrial parks, fiber optic networks and – eventually – a pipeline.

And that pipeline will be no less than an extension up north of IP.

As part of CPEC, for instance, last month TBEA Xinjiang SunOasis — a Chinese company — finished the biggest solar power plant in Pakistan, for $215 million, in only three months.

At Karamay, China and Pakistan signed 20 CPEC-related cooperation agreements. They even issued a Karamay manifesto, stressing the political/economic importance of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. CPEC is the largest China-Pakistan joint project since the construction of the Karakoram highway in 1979. And CPEC is only one among six economic corridors to be developed as part of the New Silk Roads.

Yet the full impact of CPEC will only be noted by the next decade. That’s when the New Silk Road for the bulk of China’s energy imports from the Middle East will be cut short by no less than 12,000 kilometers.

Ashgabat wakes up

Meanwhile, Turkmengaz — Turkmenistan’s national gas company — has taken a 51% stake in a consortium still seeking to build the perennially troubled TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipeline, a serious competitor to IP if it ever gets built.

That’s a game-changer because the Turkmen will now be in charge of the construction and operation of TAPI Ltd. The cost is a whopping $10 billion (IP will cost three times less); investment to the tune of $4 billion and $6 billion in debt.

Still it all comes back to the same problem; who wants to invest in a steel umbilical cord prone to all sorts of sabotage traversing a war zone — western Afghanistan all the way to Kandahar? In theory, “host countries” should be responsible for TAPI’s security; in the case of Afghanistan, that qualifies as black humor.

For the moment, Turkmengaz can only count on the Manila-based but Japan/US-controlled Asian Development Bank (ADB). That’s not much. The notoriously opaque regime in Ashgabat says it’s seeking other backers — but no one knows where and how.

TAPI is still a pipe dream. Pakistan and India are not seriously considering it viable even in the medium term. So it’s back to IP.

Even after sanctions are lifted, Iran will need to find an ocean of investment — at least $180 billion — to upgrade its energy infrastructure and be able to start exporting natural gas to Europe, in competition with Gazprom.

So Iran’s privileged Pipelineistan play for the near future will be Asia – from Southwest Asia (Iraq and Oman) to South Asia (Pakistan). With China ready to instantly capitalize on every surge of Iran’s natural gas production.

(Copyright 2015 Asia Times Holdings Limited, a duly registered Hong Kong company. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

Fonte: Asia Times

Mas… E qual é o verdadeiro negócio com o Irã?

iran-nuclear-deal-netanyahu-cartoon

31/7/2015, The Saker, The Vineyard of the Saker

Tenho de começar a coluna com um mea culpa: desde pelo menos 2007, vivo a prever que os EUA atacarão o Irã; e até agora, sempre errei completamente. O ataque nunca aconteceu. Mas acertei, ou pelo menos espero ter acertado, nas razões pelas quais esse ataque não conseguiu se materializar, pelo menos até agora. Em termos puramente militares, um ataque contra o Irã não poderia ser bem-sucedido, porque o Irã tinha opções demais, para contra-ataque assimétrico. Mas as verdadeiras razões por trás do fracasso certo de qualquer ataque dos EUA contra o Irã estão enterradas sob uma montanha de mitos que cercam a questão nuclear iraniana. Hoje, proponho examinar, embora não muito profundamente, o maior desses mitos.

O mito: Irã trabalha num programa militar nuclear

Esse, claro, é o principal mito, a pedra basilar de todas as demais tolices que se escreveram sobre o Irã. A resiliência desse mito baseia-se num fator simples: é impossível provar uma premissa que comece com “não”. Assim como o Iraque jamais pôde provar que não tinha armas de destruição em massa, o Irã não pode provar que não tem programa militar nuclear. A comunidade de inteligência dos EUA mostrou nível de coragem realmente surpreendente quando, apesar da pressão imensa de neoconservadores que endossavam esse mito, a comunidade concluiu, no 2007 NIE, que o Irã tivera um programa nuclear no passado, mas parou de trabalhar nele. Mesmo assim, o bom-senso nos confirma o que se pode descrever como “prova circunstancial eloquente” de que o Irã não tem qualquer intenção de desenvolver alguma arma nuclear.

Para começar, desenvolver realmente uma arma nuclear não significaria que o Irã conseguiria usá-la, muito menos contra Israel. À parte a bomba propriamente dita, capacidade nuclear implica ter todos os seguintes itens:

– Possibilidade de testar a bomba nuclear (se não é testada, não tem qualquer serventia).

– Sistema de transporte e disparo (míssil, avião).

– Habilidades para proteger a bomba nuclear e o sistema de transporte/disparo contra ataque preventivo para desarmá-los.

– E o mais importante de tudo: uma estratégia de guerra, uma doutrina militar sobre como usar a capacidade nuclear.

Fato é que o Irã não tem como testar bomba alguma, sem que o planeta tome conhecimento. O Irã não tem sistema confiável e que sobreviva, para transportar e disparar a bomba; e, mais importante ainda, o Irã não pode nem cogitar de usar bomba atômica contra EUA ou Israel, sem sofrer ataque devastador de retaliação. Tenham em mente que, embora, com certeza total, os militares israelenses não tenham meios pelos quais ferir significativamente o Irã com armas convencionais, o estado judeu com certeza também total tem meios pelos quais ferir gravemente o Irã, com o vasto e sofisticado arsenal nuclear israelense. Em outras palavras, usar nukes seria suicídio para o Irã.

Pregadores e defensores do mito das armas nucleares iranianas vivem a citar a República Popular Democrática da Coreia, a “Coreia do Norte”, como “prova de que bombas atômicas são proteção eficaz contra ataques do Tio Sam”. O problema é que essa gente não presta atenção a uma diferença crucial: a capital da Coreia do Sul, Seul, está dentro da área de alcance dos tiros, e a RPDC tem vastíssima capacidade militar convencional, a qual, embora envelhecida e pouco sofisticada, mesmo assim pode causar dano terrível à Coreia do Sul e às forças dos EUA ali alocadas. Segundo a Wikipedia, a RPDC tem 9,495 milhões de pessoal ativo, da reserva e paramilitares (inclusive 180 mil soldados de forças especiais), o que faz da ‘Coreia do Norte’ a maior organização militar da face do planeta. E tudo isso, literalmente, a apenas uns poucos passos de caminhada de distância de Seul! Bem diferente disso, o Irã absolutamente não tem poder para projetar capacidades que tornariam possível atacar Israel.

Quando encurralados por argumentos lógicos irrespondíveis, os apoiadores/pregadores do mito do programa militar nuclear do Irã voltam sempre ao clichê super desgastado de “muçulmanos são fanáticos”, todos querendo “morrer por Alá” e toda a correspondente restante imbecilidade ‘ensinada’ ao público pelos veículos da imprensa-empresa. O problema aí é que há exatamente nenhuma prova, provas zero, que demonstre a dita “insanidade” dos líderes iranianos (e, não, não, Ahmadinejad jamais disse que o Irã varreria Israel do mapa). De fato, considerando que desde 1979 os EUA vêm fazendo tudo que seja imaginável para derrubar a República Islâmica ou, no mínimo, para criar um pretexto para poder atacá-la, eu diria que os iranianos são gente extremamente sofisticada e altamente inteligente. O modo como o Irã usou os neoconservadores norte-americanos para fazer os EUA atacarem o Iraque (o pior inimigo dos iranianos), em vez de o Irã ter de atacar, me parece movimento simplesmente brilhantíssimo. Não, os iranianos não são, absolutamente não, doidos; eles sabem que ter uma arma nuclear não ajudará a proteger o Irã; e eles sabem que jamais poderiam usá-la, sem determinar o fim da República Islâmica. Além disso, os que tanto acreditam que os muçulmanos sejam doidos com tendência ao suicídio nuclear, jamais tiveram a ideia de bombardear o Paquistão. Quero dizer: por que o Irã, sim, mas o Paquistão, não?

A realidade: o Irã é ameaça civilizacional à hegemonia dos EUA, a Israel e ao Reino da Arábia Saudita

Essa é a real razão de todas as tensões, agitar de sabres e histeria: o Irã representa enorme ameaça política, social, econômica, religiosa e até civilizacional aos EUA, a Israel e aos sauditas. Diferente do regime saudita obscurantista e totalitário, a República Islâmica é democrática, democracia islâmica, socialmente progressista, capaz de alcançar sucessos realmente espantosos, no plano econômico, científico e social, sob condições extremamente duras, que incluíram, desde sanções econômicas e políticas impostas pelos EUA, até uma devastadora guerra, que durou sete anos, contra o Iraque (integralmente apoiado e armado até os dentes por EUA, União Soviética e França). Oh, claro, o Irã não é sociedade perfeita e sem mácula, mas, comparado ao resto do Oriente Médio, é realmente um paraíso sobre a Terra.

Que o Irã tenha alcançado tudo que alcançou, em aberto e total desafio contra ambos, EUA e Israel, é absolutamente inaceitável para o Império Anglo-sionista. Só isso já basta, como razão para desejarem fazer ao Irã o que recentemente fizeram à Líbia e à Síria. Quanto aos sauditas, não só o reino medieval wahhabista deles aparece como ainda mais flagrantemente bárbaro, se comparado ao Irã, mas, também, há uma considerável minoria xiita que vive quase exatamente sobre os maiores campos de petróleo do reino. Na verdade, por alguma ironia do destino, se se examina um mapa da Arábia Saudita ou do Iraque, logo se vê que os xiitas vivem quase exatamente sobre os mais ricos campos de petróleo dos dois países. Por fim, o Irã é aliado natural do regime alawita na Síria e, especialmente, do Hezbollah no Líbano.

Um aspecto dos sucessos da República Islâmica é que o Irã esteve, como ainda está, trabalhando num programa nuclear para finalidades civis. Primeiro, o Irã sempre precisou de fonte alternativa de energia e por isso, já nos aos 1950s, os EUA forneceram ao Irã inúmeras tecnologias nucleares civis, sob programa Atoms for Peace. Segundo, o Irã também está engajado em pesquisa nuclear, também para finalidades médicas; e ter programa de pesquisa nuclear civil é fonte de grande prestígio.

Mas ainda mais importante que isso, o programa nuclear iraniano converteu-se em um símbolo de soberania. Tio Sam diz “não, você não pode”, e o Irã replica “ah, podemos sim, podemos e faremos.” Esse é o verdadeiro ‘crime’ cuja ‘culpa’ pesa sobre o Irã: ter desafiado a hegemonia anglo-sionista sobre o Oriente Médio.

Pode haver muitas razões pelas quais os EUA assinaram afinal esse acordo ‘P5+1’ com o Irã. Vão de simples “fadiga imperial” até um desejo, em Obama, de mostrar o ‘acordo’ como feito de sua presidência (absolutamente catastrófica, sem nem o acordo para exibir). Pode também ter acontecido de o establishment de segurança dos EUA ter feito contas (certas) e concluído que os EUA simplesmente não teriam fôlego para fazer guerra ao Irã. Seja qual for a causa, fato é que o acordo foi afinal firmado, e esse é resultado, mesmo que provisório, extremamente bom.

Potencialmente, o Irã pode desempenhar papel crucial e altamente benéfico no Oriente Médio, primeiro e sobretudo, como único país realmente capaz de dar conta do Daesh (também chamado “Estado Islâmico”, ISIL e ISIS) e de estabilizar o Iraque. Sim, é verdade: enquanto os EUA continuarem a apoiar a al-Qaeda na Síria, os horrores só continuarão. De fato, algum analista da CIA particularmente mais pervertido poderia argumentar que dar poder ao Irã pode tornar menos arriscada a derrubada do regime sírio, porque, mesmo no caso de Damasco cair frente à al-Qaeda, o Irã ainda teria meios para conter os terroristas.

Seja qual for o caso, a verdade é que, hoje, só o Irã e o Hezbollah estão impedindo o Daesh de assumir o controle de toda a região. Assim sendo, eu não descartaria totalmente a possibilidade de a CIA & Co. ter aliviado a pressão sobre o Irã, mesmo temporariamente, para dar ‘um aperto’ no Daesh (empurrando os dois lados na direção do conflito, como ensina a velha anglo-tradição).

Aqui tenho de voltar ao mea culpa inicial. Passei anos prevendo que os EUA atacariam o Irã e, em vez de ataque, o que se tem hoje é um Plano Amplo Conjunto de Ação (PACA) [ing. Joint Comprehensive Action Plan, JCAP] entre o Irã e o P5+1.

Confesso que estou tão feliz com o acordo, quanto descrente de que venha a ser implementado. Estou feliz, porque, se o acordo for levado a sério, pode realmente fazer sentido e diluir uma situação desnecessariamente perigosa. Mas também estou muito cético. Quando observo a reação histérica do lobby israelense nos EUA, custo a acreditar que o acordo, algum dia, venha a ser cumprido pelos EUA. Afinal de contas, se os neocons não controlam completamente a Casa Branca, com certeza controlam todo o Congresso e a imprensa-empresa nos EUA. E nem o fato de que a maioria dos judeus norte-americanos apoiam o acordo com o Irã os deterá. Como já disse incontáveis vezes, o sionismo não é questão étnica nem religiosa, é uma ideologia; e os judeus norte-americanos não têm mais influência sobre o regime dos 1% no poder, que os norte-americanos não judeus. Quanto aos 1%, eles só são leais a eles mesmos. Significa que os siodoidos [orig. Ziocrazies] conseguirão destruir o acordo com o Irã? Honestamente não sei, mas confesso que, por natureza, não tendo ao otimismo. *****

UN endorses Iran nuclear deal unanimously, paving way for sanctions relief

CrossTalk: Tehran Pivot? (Ft. Pepe Escobar & Gareth Porter)

‘Certain states helped create Islamist extremism’ – Iran’s Rouhani to UN Gen Assembly

China, Iran and Russia: Restructuring the global order

Nota

Powerful countries are alarmed by the threats against Russia as they see themselves as potential future targets.

 
Last updated: 20 May 2014 10:56
Seyed Mohammad Marandi
 
Seyed Mohammad Marandi is professor of North American Studies and dean of the Faculty of World Studies at the University of Tehran.
 
 

Countries with major oil and gas reserves such as Russia, Iran and Iraq are already turning eastward, writes Marandi [Getty Image]
At the Fourth Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) that opens May 20 in Shanghai, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will meet with both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Among other things, the summit will underscore how rising non-Western powers are playing ever more prominent roles on the global stage. However, Western elites remain stuck in a time warp, wherein the United States and its European partners are the imperial masters of all they survey.In this regard, it is an interesting coincidence how mainstream Western media outlets consistently produce narratives that are almost indistinguishable from official government statements regarding countries and leaders with dissimilar worldviews from their Western counterparts. For instance, we repeatedly hear about the democratically elected “dictators” in Venezuela, yet we are assured that friendly dictators are “moderate reformers”.Another fascinating coincidence is that Western human rights organisations pursue initiatives and policies closely aligned with those of their own governments. When the US accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons against its own people – notwithstanding noteworthy evidence to the contrary and despite the fact that it was fine as far as Washington was concerned when former Iraqi president Saddam Hossein attacked Iran with chemical weapons – some human rights advocates stood shoulder to shoulder with President Barack Obama in advocating “shock and awe” in Damascus for humanitarian purposes.

Contrary to what Saudi Princess Basmah Bint Saud states, Amnesty International’s soft spot for Saudi Arabia may be linked to more than just oil – for this renowned organisation is a true believer in promoting human rights through liberal imperialism. Until recently, Amnesty USA was led by a former senior US government official who is a leading “humanitarian interventionist“.

On the side-lines of the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago, Amnesty International campaigned for NATO’s continued occupation of Afghanistan under the rubric, “keep the progress going”; Amnesty’s shadow summit for Afghan women was graced with the presence of none other than former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright known for commenting that over half million dead Iraqi children as a result of sanctions “was worth it”.

Generous doses of hypocrisy

It is refreshing to see such consensus at all levels of public discourse in the “Free World”. It seems that there is general agreement among European and North American elites that Western objectives are well-intentioned, even if highly generous doses of hypocrisy are administered on the way. Hence, the British foreign secretary, speaking on behalf of the so called Friends of Syria, just days ago welcomed “the fact that preparations for the presidential elections on May 25 are proceeding well” in violence-stricken Ukraine where roughly half the country rejects the Kiev-based coup regime.

Then, literally a minute later (and with a straight face), he condemned the “Assad regime’s unilateral plan to hold illegitimate presidential elections on June 3. We say in our communique that this mocks the innocent lives lost in the conflict”. Apparently there has been no significant loss of innocent life as a result of illegal cross border support for extremists and al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria over the last three years.

It is also remarkable that any perceived rival to Western power can almost immediately be compared to Adolf Hitler without raising many eyebrows. Benjamin Netanyahu and other Zionist advocates can repeatedly threaten the Iranian people with military strikes, yet simultaneously promote the false logic that the Islamic Republic wishes to create a holocaust by allegedly denying the Holocaust (whatever that means).

In recent weeks, we have once again returned to 1939 as the bizarre Hitler analogy is now being used to describe Putin. The irony here is that the right wing neo-Nazi groups within the pro-Western Kiev regime consider themselves as the Russian president’s greatest foes. Indeed, for some, al-Nusra Front, Islamic Front in Syria or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant analogy would be somewhat more appropriate to describe the Ukrainian political party, Right Sector.

Former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser was another one of many Hitlers in Western political discourse. When in 1956, he nationalised the Suez Canal, then British Prime Minister Anthony Eden viewed his actions as an insult to the British Empire. However, the “Suez moment” was a classic case of overreach for a rapidly declining empire that politicians in the US today should ponder.

Winner-take-all worldview

Their winner-take-all worldview, which has already resulted in widespread inequality and relative economic decline in the US, has also, since 2001, conditioned a series of “moments” whereby Washington’s arrogant zero-sum mentality has produced one strategic failure after another.

Obama’s pivot to Asia is viewed with scepticism, as the US already has more than it can handle in Ukraine, west Asia and North Africa. The real Asia pivot is driven by rapidly rising economies, especially China, as countries with major oil and gas reserves such as Russia, Iran and Iraq are already turning eastward.

 

The US government is caught in a web of self-deception if it believes that its declining global influence has gone unnoticed among the world’s rising powers. Obama’s pivot to Asia is viewed with scepticism, as the US already has more than it can handle in Ukraine, west Asia and North Africa. The real Asia pivot is driven by rapidly rising economies, especially China, as countries with major oil and gas reserves such as Russia, Iran and Iraq are already turning eastward.

In a 2012 report that some consider to be too conservative in its prognostications, the US multinational investment banking firm Goldman Sachs projects that by 2050 the US will be the only Western power among the top five global economies, with an economy much smaller than China’s. In addition, the World Bank predicts that the US dollar will lose its current global dominance in roughly a decade.

Ironically, instead of attempting to build new bridges and forging new partnerships to stall their declining global status as the balance of power shifts away from Europe and North America, Western governments unwisely antagonise key powers. Spying on the Brazilian president does not help, denying a visa to the next Indian prime minister can spell trouble ahead, giving strong warnings to China can raise tensions – but threatening Russia with economic warfare may prove to be a game changer.

Of course, the US and its allies have already engaged in inhuman economic warfare against ordinary citizens of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The US has targeted the Iranian banking sector as well as the central bank and has threatened Iran’s trading partners with punitive sanctions if they do not abide by US laws.

Many countries have protested against these US imperial dictates, but have so far largely abided by US demands in order to avoid its aggressive behaviour. However, with threats now being made against the Russian Federation, alarm bells have begun ringing, as powerful countries see themselves as potential future targets. Economic warfare against another major power will force emerging economic powerhouses to seriously think about the future of global financial and communications systems as well as the immediate need to enhance cooperation and to restructure the global political and economic order.

During the CICA Summit in Shanghai, Presidents Xi Jinping, Rouhani and Putin definitely have a lot to talk about.

Seyed Mohammad Marandi is professor of North American Studies and dean of the Faculty of World Studies at the University of Tehran.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Fonte: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/05/china-iran-russia-restructuring-201451964119463320.html?fb_action_ids=10152431601726678&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_ref=s%3DshowShareBarUI%3Ap%3Dfacebook-like&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582

Foreign Policy: “Forget China: Iran hackers are America’s newest cyber threats

Imagem

In March 2012, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, publicly announced the creation a new Supreme Council of Cyberspace to oversee the defense of the Islamic republic’s computer networks and develop news ways of infiltrating or attacking the computer networks of its enemies. Less than two years later, security experts and U.S. intelligence officials are alarmed by how quickly Iran has managed to develop its cyber warfare capabilities — and by how much it’s willing to use them.

For several years, Iran was believed to possess the ambition to launch disruptive attacks on Western, Israeli or Arab computer networks, but not necessarily the technological capability of actually doing so. Those doubts have largely evaporated. In late 2012, U.S. intelligence officials believe hackers in Iran launched a series of debilitating assaults on the Web sites of major U.S. banks. The hackers used a well-honed technique called a denial of service attack, in which massive amounts of traffic are directed at a site’s servers until they crash. But the traffic flow in the bank attack was orders of magnitude greater than anything U.S. security officials had seen up to that point, indicating a remarkable degree of technical sophistication.

Last year, U.S. officials say that Iranian hackers infiltrated a large unclassified computer network used by the Navy and Marine Corps. Officials now say it took the Navy four months to fully clear its systems and recover from the breach, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

“Iran should be considered a first-tier cyber power,” Gabi Siboni, a cyber security expert with Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, said during a speech in Washington last December.

Western analysts see Iran’s embrace of cyber attacks as a strategic attempt to counter the conventional military forces of the United States and Iran’s regional rivals, particularly Saudi Arabia. Some analysts have blamed Iran for an attack on the computers of Saudi Aramco, the national energy company that supplies about 10 percent of the world’s oil. The attack erased data from 30,000 computers, but it didn’t affect oil and gas production and distribution facilities.

Analysts debate whether Iran should yet be included in the same league as the United States, Israel, or China, which each possess extensive capabilities to launch attacks on computer networks and the critical infrastructure connected to them, including electrical power facilities. But U.S. intelligence agencies now judge that Iran is well on the path to becoming a formidable cyber force. James Clapper, the U.S. director of national intelligence, recently warned that Iran’s “development of cyber espionage or attack capabilities might be used in an attempt to either provoke or destabilize the United States or its partners.

The heart of Iran’s national cyber efforts is the cyberspace council set up in 2012. It’s chaired by the Iranian president, Hasan Rouhani and its members include senior government officials, including the head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, which controls military units believed to conduct offensive cyber operations and electronic warfare, such as jamming communications systems. Iran was motivated to ramp up its cyber security efforts, particularly the defense of its internal networks and vital infrastructure facilities, after a cyber attack on an Iraniannuclear facility by the United States and Israel that disabled 1,000 centrifuges used to enrich uranium, a key component of a nuclear weapon. Iran’s defensive capabilities today are devoted to preventing another such attack, as well as monitoring and suppressing domestic political opponents who threaten the regime, Siboni wrote in a recentanalysis of Iran’s capabilities.

The Revolutionary Guard now owns and controls the biggest communications company in Iran, Siboni said. The government restricts access to the public Internet and monitors computers in Internet cafes. A domestic police force, known as FETA is charged with monitoring online activity and speech, as well as combating fraud and theft.

But it’s the offensive side of the ledger that worries U.S. officials the most. In the past week, Iranian leaders have threatened to use cyber warfare against Tehran’s enemies. “One of the options on the table of the U.S. and its allies is a cyber war against Iran. But we are fully prepared to fightcyber warfare,” said Gen. Mohammad Aqakishi, the commander of the information technology and communication department of the armed forces’ general staff, according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency.

“[Aqakishi] said the U.S. has been making ‘empty threats’ against Iran for several years, noting that Washington itself is mindful of the Islamic Republic’s military might in the arena of information technology and communication,” Tasnim reported.

Last week, Khameini, Iran’s supreme leader, reportedly exhorted Iranian students, whom he called “cyber war agents,” to prepare to fight Iran’s enemies in cyberspace. “Get yourselves ready for such war wholeheartedly,” Khameini said.

“If any war is launched against Iran, we won’t give any ground to the enemy and they themselves know this very well,” Iran’s military chief of staff, Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, said last week, declaring that Iran was prepared for a “decisive battle” with the United States and Israel.

Such provocations haven’t gone unnoticed. And U.S. military officials have acknowledged that if the United States uses cyber weapons against Iran, Americans should expect some retaliation. “That’s a valid assumption,” Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview in January 2013. “There are reports that destructive cyber tools have been used against Iran. I’m not-I’m neither confirming nor denying any-any part in that. What that should tell you is that that capability exists. And if it exists…whoever’s using those can’t assume that they’re the only smart people in the world.”

A few days before Dempsey’s remarks, Gen. William Shelton, the commander of Air Force Space Command, warned that Iran was a growing offensive threat in cyberspace. “They’re going to be a force to be reckoned with, with the potential capabilities that they’ll develop over the years and the potential threat that they’ll represent to the United States,” Shelton said. In other words, Chinese hackers aren’t the only ones Washington needs to worry about.

Fonte: Foreign Policy