US imposes fresh sanctions over Iran's alleged cyber activities
The United States imposes penalties on people and organizations it claims are connected to Iran's IRGC.
The United States imposed sanctions Wednesday on individuals and entities allegedly linked to Iran's Islamic Revolution Guard Corps for what it called Tehran's "malicious" cyber and ransomware activity.
The US Treasury stated in a statement that the penalties were a component of a coordinated action by numerous US agencies, including the departments of Justice and State.
Washington accuses Iran's IRGC of running a global radical campaign and of controlling an extensive corporate empire, as well as elite armed and intelligence units.
The US Treasury said it imposed sanctions on 10 individuals and two entities over the alleged cyber activities.
US sanctions Iranian ministry over Albania cyberattack
On September 9, the US announced sanctions on Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security and its Minister Esmail Khatib, after accusing Tehran of being behind a cyberattack against NATO ally Albania.
Reuters said the Iranian Ministry was already designated under US sanctions.
According to the Albanian government, Iran allegedly carried out the attack on July 15, seeking to paralyze public services and access data and communications in government systems.
The US claimed that the Iranian Intelligence Ministry was behind the attack, which Tirana said mostly failed and caused no lasting damage.
"Iran’s cyber attack against Albania disregards norms of responsible peacetime state behavior in cyberspace, which includes a norm on refraining from damaging critical infrastructure that provides services to the public," said US Treasury Under Secretary Brian Nelson.
Iran slams US, UK for silence over cyberattacks against Tehran
Earlier, the Permanent Mission of Iran to the United Nations slammed the United States and Britain for remaining silent when it comes to cyberattacks against Tehran.
In a statement, the mission considered that "as a victim of cyber-attacks, Iran strongly condemns any cyber-attack targeting civilian infrastructure in all its forms and manifestations."
"We rejected the baseless accusations of the US and the UK against the Islamic Republic of Iran regarding an alleged cyberattack on Albania," the statement stressed.
The Iranian mission pointed out that "the US and the UK, that had previously remained silent in numerous cyberattacks against Iran’s infrastructures and its nuclear facilities, and had even directly or indirectly supported those measures, lack any legitimacy to level such accusations against Iran."
"As the main victim of terrorism, Iran urges the Member States of the UN to uphold their international obligations in combating terrorism by not harboring or supporting terrorist groups within their territory," the statement read.
Albanian 'baseless' claims 'ill-considered, short-sighted': Iranian FM
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani rejected the claims made by the Albanian government and described its decision to sever ties with Iran as unwise.
In a statement, Kanaani said the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers Albania's decision to "sever political relations with our country based on such baseless claims to be an ill-considered and short-sighted action in international relations."
"As one of the countries that have been the target of cyber attacks on its critical infrastructure, the Islamic Republic of Iran rejects and condemns any use of cyberspace as a means to attack the infrastructure of other countries," Kanaani indicated.
The Iranian spokesperson said third-party countries that support terrorism played a key role in Albania's decision to sever ties with Iran, pointing out that the US and Israeli occupation's immediate statements following the Albanian decision proved that there is a new plot and campaign against Tehran.
Kanaani also pointed to Albania's sheltering of a terrorist group and expressed regret that Tirana was influenced by third parties in its inappropriate decisions.
Albania hosting MEK terrorist group
It is noteworthy that for years, Tirana has been hosting the People's Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK), which Iran considers a terrorist group.
Albania agreed in 2013 to take in members of the group at the request of Washington and the United Nations.
The MEK regularly hosts summits in Albania that have long attracted support from conservative US Republicans, including former Vice President Mike Pence who delivered a keynote address at an event in June.
Albania has expelled a string of Iranian diplomats from the Balkan country over the years, including Tehran's ambassador to the country in December 2018.