New Cyber Attack Detected in Iran
Israeli security company, Seculert, and Russia’s Kaspersky Lab have uncovered another cyber espionage campaign primarily aimed at Iran that they are calling the Mahdi Trojan. While primarily targeting Iran, the trojan, which is capable of stealing files and monitoring email, was also found in other Middle Eastern countries. The campaign which has effected more than 800 victims, targets infrastructure companies, engineering students, financial services, and government embassies (Reuters 7/17).
Pentagon Reportedly Building Missile Defense Radar in Qatar
U.S. officials told the Wall Street Journal that the Pentagon is building an “X-band” missile-defense radar station at a secret site in Qatar, which is capable of detecting missile launches in cooperation with radar systems in Israel and Turkey. Additionally, the U.S. is preparing its largest ever minesweeping exercises in the Persian Gulf starting in September (WSJ 6/17).
Clinton Calls Iranian P5+1 Proposals “Non-Starters” in Israel
At a news conference in Jerusalem yesterday, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said, “”I made very clear that the proposals that we have seen from Iran thus far within the P5+1 negotiations are non-starters.” Clinton spoke following a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. She added, “Our own choice is clear: we will use all elements of American power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” (CNN 7/16).
Indians Fired On By U.S. Craft in the Persian Gulf
On Monday, one Indian was killed and three others were injured when a 677-foot US Navy ship fired at an approaching 30-foot fishing boat off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. The fishermen claim to have had no warning before the U.S. craft opened fire (NYT 7/16; Reuters 7/16).
A spokesperson for the Iranian foreign ministry responded during a news conference by saying, “We have announced time and again that the presence of foreign forces can be a threat to regional security,” (Reuters 7/17).
U.N. Secretary General Calls on MEK to Abandon Military Base “Without Further Delay”
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on the Iraqi government and the designated terrorist organization, the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), “to continue to continue to work together in a constructive and flexible manner in order to complete the relocation process without further delay” from Camp Ashraf. The Iraqi government has set a July 20 deadline for the group to vacate the camp (AP 7/16).
Iran Falls to Fourth Largest OPEC Oil Exporter
According to OPEC’s annual statistical bulletin, Iran has fallen to fourth place in a listing of OPEC’s largest exporters of oil from second place. (WSJ 6/17). This month only four countries are expected to import Iranian oil: China, India, Japan, and Taiwan, according to the consultancy Petrologistics. China now accounts for more than half of Iran’s oil exports (Reuters 6/17).
Notable Opinion: “Playing into the mullahs’ hands”
Dylan Williams of J Street argues military threats feed into the rhetoric of hardliners in Iran:
There is thus a decisive difference between leaving all options on the table while pursuing a permanent diplomatic resolution and actively threatening military action. And while it is prudent for the United States military to prepare for a contingency with Iran, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey testified it already has, it is reckless to mistake that contingency for sound strategy.
With a growing consensus of American and Israeli security experts arguing that a military strike would not be effective in stopping Iran’s nuclear program, it has become clear that the success of the critical effort to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon hangs on the outcome of diplomacy. Those pushing the American Government to threaten military force must come to realize that their words not only strengthen Tehran’s hand in negotiations, but hasten the day when a nuclear weapon could be in its grasp.
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