Disrupting Iran: Sanctions, Indictments, and Cyberoperations
Unleashing a Multifaceted Strategy
In a strategic move before carrying out strikes against Iran-backed militants, the United States employed a multifaceted approach to exert pressure on Tehran. While the military action was imminent, Washington also implemented sanctions and filed criminal charges against individuals and officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Iran’s premier military force.
Targeting Iran’s Threats and Financing of Militant Groups
The Biden administration, in an effort to disrupt Iran’s activities, imposed sanctions on the Revolutionary Guards Corps for their involvement in threatening water utilities and aiding in the production of Iranian drones. Simultaneously, criminal charges were unsealed against nine individuals involved in oil sales that financed militant groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.
Countering Offensive Cyberoperations and Illicit Oil Sales
These actions form part of a coordinated governmentwide initiative to counter Iran’s use of illicit oil sales to fund terrorism and combat their growing offensive cybercapabilities. In recent years, Iran has developed a generation of skilled hackers and conducted cyberoperations against various countries, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United States.
The Impact of Sanctions and Indictments
Although the practical effects of sanctions and indictments on Iranian officers and officials may be limited, their psychological impact is significant. By demonstrating Western intelligence agencies’ vigilance in monitoring their activities, these measures serve as a reminder that their movements and transactions are under scrutiny.
International Efforts Against Iran
A series of recent actions have targeted Iran, culminating in the strikes on Iranian proxies in Syria and Iraq. The United States unsealed charges against an Iranian individual accused of hiring a member of the Hells Angels to assassinate Iranian dissidents. Additionally, four Chinese citizens were indicted for attempting to smuggle technology used in military equipment for groups associated with the Revolutionary Guards.
Vulnerabilities in Critical Infrastructure
The water utilities sanctions were specifically aimed at highlighting vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure. By targeting the logic controllers, which manage pumps and valves in the water systems, the United States emphasizes the need for increased protection of essential services.
Combating Cyberattacks and Disrupting Weapon Programs
Iran’s involvement in cyberattacks, such as the ransomware attack on Boston Children’s Hospital and a major Las Vegas casino, has prompted the United States to take action. Sanctions were imposed on officials of the Revolutionary Guards’ electronic warfare and cyber defense organization. Furthermore, the State Department targeted four companies supplying materials and technology to Iran’s drone and missile programs.
Interconnected Threats and Global Impact
The legal actions against Iranian oil smugglers and the intensifying tensions between the United States and Iran are closely intertwined. Illicit oil sales fund attacks like the one that killed three American service members. Since October 7th, Iran-backed militias have carried out over 160 attacks against US military forces in Iraq, Syria, and Jordan.
“Today’s cases are part of the department’s ongoing efforts to disrupt the flow of black-market Iranian oil, which finances the regime’s malign activities, posing a threat to the United States and global interests,” emphasized Matthew G. Olsen, head of the national security division of the Justice Department.
Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington.
Read More of this Story at www.nytimes.com – 2024-02-03 01:35:01
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