US imposes new sanctions on Iran over Albanian cyberattack | Political news
The US sanctions against Iran’s Intelligence Ministry come after Albania blamed Iran for the July incident, which Tehran has denied.
Washington D.C.- The Biden administration has imposed new sanctions on Iran’s Intelligence and Security Ministry for what it called “malicious cyber activities” as the two countries struggle to find a way back to the 2015 nuclear deal .
The U.S. Treasury Department said Friday the sanctions were in response to a July cyberattack that disrupted government websites in Albania, which Washington and Tirana have blamed on Tehran.
“Iran’s cyberattack on Albania disregards standards of responsible state behavior in peacetime in cyberspace, which includes a norm on refraining from damaging critical infrastructure that provides services to the public,” Treasury official Brian Nelson said in a statement.
“We will not tolerate Iran’s increasingly aggressive cyber activities targeting the United States or our allies and partners.”
The July cyberattack sparked a diplomatic crisis between Albania and Iran, which dismissed claims it was responsible for the incident as “baseless”.
NATO member Albania hosts the Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), which Iran considers a “terrorist” organization seeking to overthrow the government in Tehran by force.
Friday’s sanctions, which also targeted Intelligence Minister Esmail Khatib, come a day after Washington imposed sanctions on several Iranian companies, accusing them of being involved in the production and transfer of drones to Russia for the war. in Ukraine.
“The United States is committed to strictly enforce our sanctions against Russia and Iran and to hold Iran and those who support Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine accountable,” Nelson said Thursday. .
The sanctions will freeze the assets of targeted individuals and entities in the United States and make it illegal for US citizens to do business with them.
Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment on Friday.
The US government has been stepping up sanctions against Iran since President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal in 2018.
The multilateral pact, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), had seen Iran reduce its nuclear program in exchange for lifting international sanctions against its economy.
Reinstatement of the deal appeared imminent last month after the European Union submitted a draft agreement dubbed the “final text”.
But after Tehran and Washington exchanged comments on the proposal, US officials dismissed Iran’s latest response earlier this month as “unconstructive”. In turn, Iran stressed that its response was reasonable and “transparent”.
The exchange of blame between the two sides dispelled any optimism that the JCPOA could be reinstated before the US midterm elections in November.
On Friday, the US State Department, which leads indirect nuclear talks with Iran, welcomed the sanctions against Tehran’s Intelligence Ministry, saying Washington “will use all appropriate tools to counter cyberattacks” against the United States. United and its allies.