Iran from cyber warfare to the oil war

Pierluigi Paganini March 07, 2012

Winds of war blowing in the Middle East, increasingly insistent rumors of a possible attack on Iran by Israel or the U.S.. In internet it is possible to find many news regarding the topic that declare both Iran and nations opposing them seem intentioned to attack. In this stage, the contenders are engaged in a mutual and intense phase of the trial during which they are seeking approval from the major nations of the world. If everything seems to stopped on the military front, with the exception of some propaganda exercise, on the front warfare it is possible to register a huge quantity of operations. The choice of operating first in cyberspace offers obvious advantages, reduced costs, high offensive potential and ability to operate actions of intelligence extended in time to study the vulnerabilities of the adversary.
Virus Stuxnet and similar weapons have teach to the world how could be effective a cyber weapon, it is silent and it could be attack critical infrastructures with serious implications.

The United States are aware of the imminent threat of possible attacks on American soil, however, are pursuing a policy that is softer looking international consent and aiming to hit Iran economically and politically with penalties and warnings. Clearly the intention of the Obama administration to take time, we are close to the November elections and a possible attack could certainly affect the outcome of the vote. Many are convinced that President Obama would start a war with Iran for the purpose only of winning re-election in November, defeating the old enemy would be a flywheel for a media campaign with an uncertain outcome, an option to use in case of difficulty.

The decision to attack Iran is justified by the need to arrest the nuclear program of Teheran, but the US director of national intelligence, who coordinates all the US security agencies, admits Iran haven’t yet built a nuclear weapon but according several intelligence source it could be do it in a couple of year. Let’s consider that in more or less 16 years Iran, according IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports has put conducted a significant nuclear program with some 8,000 operational centrifuges installed in two major sites, and a stockpile of about five tons of low-enriched uranium.

Actually the western orientation is to combine penalties to the government of Teheran trying to reduce its oil exportation and boycotting Iranian banks and Iranian companies.
Besides these official operations certainly have been launched covert operations aimed at undermining its nuclear program and the nation itself, as the development of Stuxnet and the murder of scientists engaged in nuclear research in Iran.

The idea of ​​a conventional conflict scares many countries to possibly spending to be incurred in case of attack, in fact although Iran is no great military threat it has invested in a robust defensive structures which would be enormously costly to bypass in case of attack.  Under Cyber warfare perspective we must consider Iranian expertise. During the protests after the disputed election in 2009 Iran has demonstrated to have the complete control of its cyberspace thanks the collaboration of western companies and to strategic alliance with technologic countries like China. The country is investing in cyber training program and in recruiting of young nationalist building a parallel covert cyber army already engaged to suppress domestic protest that could be easily employed like a cyber weapon against external enemies.

It must be clear that no government agency has recognized the control of National cyber army, but it is clear that the Revolutionary Guards are behind it.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, IRGC, seems to have built one of the largest forces of hackers on the planet. “Emperor”, “Iran Hackers Sabotage” these are the names of the main group of hackers that during the last year have conducted several operation like destroy a government database or hack into two candidates’ websites. during the 2005 presidential election. If in terms of cyber offense Iran has a considerable force not so it can be said of cyber defense strategy.
Obviously not all hacking groups in Iran are under government control, emblematic is the case of a group that managed to carry out a fraud to the detriment of some banks in the country for several million dollars.
In May 2010, Ebrahim Jabbari, a provincial Revolutionary Guards commander, declared that the IRGC had the world’s second-largest cyber army at its disposal, the US intelligence is convinced of the potential of groups to the point of recognizing them as among the major cyber threats to the country.

In addition to cyber warriors and mercenaries, the Iran regime also has the control of the private IT firm Ashiyane Security Group, which has coordinated several cyber-attacks from Iran. Its illustrious victims are Mossad, Mossad, defence minister Ehud BarakNASA and several websites in the Arab world.

This could be the war of the oil, Iran is aware of this and also its partner like China. Consider that Europe import daily 600,000 barrels of oil from Iran. Their Iranian imports are based on favorable arrangements which will be difficult to replace at the same price or quality. New contracts must be negotiated with new alternative suppliers and this is a great unknown. The impact of a possible war would weigh significantly on the entire global economy, itself already highly unstable and precarious.

In this very delicate game a fundamental rule is assumed by actors such as China that fearing an Israeli attack may try to influence Tehran politics. China is one of the main import of Iranian oil and a conflict in the region could impact seriously its economy. It’s quite difficult to predict what will China do, president Hu Jintao, and his top foreign affairs deputy, Dai Bingguo, don’t have to be convinced that Israel will attack; rather, they only have to have serious doubts that it will back down.

In the light of the possibility of attack what might China be asked to do? Reducing purchases of Iranian crude, increasing diplomatic pressure, and more actively enforcing the four current U.N. Security Council resolutions on the Iranian nuclear issue, subordinate investments contingent on Iran’s willingness to cooperate with the international community on its nuclear program.

I personally think that only Beijing can succeed where others have failed so far with diplomacy, the resolution of hostilities is difficult and will surely bring its aftermath, but all are convinced that a possible war against Iran today would be a price to high to pay.

If the threats of Teheran will have a costs superior to damages related to a possible strike made by international community for sure it will be considered the assault option, any attempt at mediation will fail and the attack would be inevitable and desirable.

Pierluigi Paganini


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