Offensive cyber-strikes against Iran reportedly disabled its computer systems that control rocket and missile launches on Thursday night, when the military attack was called off by President Donald Trump.
President Trump approved the cyber offensive against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Washington Post reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Although the attack came after Iran had shot down an American surveillance drone, it had reportedly been months in the making. The strike was conducted by US Cyber Command in coordination with Central Command, which is in charge of US military activity in the Middle East.
A week before the attack, John Bolton, the hawkish presidential adviser and arguably the major cheerleader in the feud with Iran, revealed that the US is ramping up offensive cyber operations against its adversaries. The list included the usual suspects of Russia, Iran, China and North Korea.
The cyber-attack reportedly crippled Iran’s military command and control systems, although there were no comments from Tehran either confirming or denying it. The White House also warned about possible cyber-attacks in retaliation. US media have reported that Iranian hackers are threatening US computer systems this week, citing companies that had previously warned about seemingly ubiquitous Russian hackers.
Trump said on Friday that he had called off a planned military strike against Iranian targets, as it could have resulted in 150 casualties. The US president threatened Tehran with more crippling sanctions, saying it was not about oil, but preventing the country from developing nuclear weapons. Top Washington officials say a military strike is still on the table, but they are in favor of talks or a deal if Tehran behaves the way US wants.
"Regardless of any decision [US officials] make... we will not allow any of Iran's borders to be violated. Iran will firmly confront any aggression or threat by America," Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Saturday.