General urges Supreme National Security Council to respond to U.S. threat

July 20, 2020 - 19:27

TEHRAN — Head of Iran's Civil Defense Organization Brigadier General Gholamreza Jalali has called on the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) to respond to the threat of the U.S. Army against the Islamic Republic.

In remarks on Sunday, Jalali said Iran’s defense infrastructures are relatively secure but the U.S. Army’s threat is a war threat that needs to be addressed at other levels, Mehr reported.

He was responding to a recently disclosed order by U.S. President Donald Trump to the CIA to orchestrate more cyberattacks against Iran.

Last week, Yahoo News cited former U.S. officials as saying that the CIA has conducted a series of covert cyberattacks against Iran and other targets since 2018 when Trump gave sweeping authorization for such activities.

According to Yahoo News, the secret authorization gives the spy agency more freedom in both the kinds of operations it conducts and who it targets.

The authorization allows the CIA to more easily authorize its own covert cyber operations, rather than requiring the agency to get approval from the White House.

It “gave the agency very specific authorities to really take the fight offensively to a handful of adversarial countries,” said a former U.S. government official. 

These countries include Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea — which are mentioned directly in the document — but the authorization potentially applies to others as well, according to another former official. 

“The White House wanted a vehicle to strike back,” said the second former official. “And this was the way to do it.”

The new cyber authorization further emboldened the CIA’s operations against Iran, according to former officials. Even before Trump signed the directive, administration officials were already encouraging the CIA to aggressively interpret preexisting secret Iran-related authorities to help prosecute the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran. 

Using the Cold War strategy of rolling back the Soviet Union as inspiration, senior Trump national security officials believed that destabilizing Iran within its borders would force the Islamic Republic to cease its activities abroad and, perhaps, collapse. 

The maximum-pressure campaign includes punishing economic sanctions, but has also involved CIA cyberattacks on Iranian infrastructure, said former officials. 

“It was obvious that destabilization was the plan on Iran,” said one former official, and Trump administration officials were eager to have the CIA conduct destructive cyber operations against targets inside that country. Bolton “wanted another tool, he wanted another hammer. He was looking at Stuxnet and how to be mean to Iran, so that was probably attractive to him,” said another source.

MH/PA

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