Middle East

Iran dismisses Israeli air defenses as feeble

A small unidentified aircraft shot down in mid-air after crossing into Israel.

DUBAI/OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Iran derided Israel’s air defenses as feeble Monday, citing a drone incursion into its arch-foe’s airspace, but did not say it had sent the aircraft shot down by the Israelis at the weekend.

It also accused Israel and others of masterminding what it said was a cyber attack on communication networks on Iranian offshore oil and gas platforms in the past few weeks.

With tension high over Iran’s disputed nuclear program and Israeli threats to attack it, the remarks by Iranian officials pointed to possible aspects of a shadow war waged by the two adversaries and perhaps by Israel’s Western allies, whose sanctions have battered the Iranian economy and currency.

Jamaluddin Aberoumand, deputy coordinator for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said the drone intrusion showed that Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile defense system “does not work and lacks the necessary capacity,” Fars news agency reported.

The Israeli air force shot down the drone Saturday after it crossed into southern Israel, the military said, but it remained unclear where the aircraft had come from.

Following the incursion, Israel deployed Patriot anti-missile batteries near the northern port city of Haifa, Israeli media reported Monday.

A military spokeswoman confirmed to AFP that the U.S.-made missiles, which can shoot down drones, had been stationed near Haifa but refused to confirm the move was related to the Saturday infiltration.

The Israeli military said the drone was first spotted above the Mediterranean near the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip to the west of Israel and shot down by a fighter plane over Israeli territory.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Reza Golshani, the head of information technology for the Iranian Offshore Oil Company, told Iran’s Mehr news agency Iranian experts had been able to repel the cyber attack on the information networks on offshore oil and gas platforms.

“This attack was planned by the regime occupying Jerusalem [Israel] and a few other countries,” Golshani said. Telephone communications on the platforms were now normal.

Iran, the world’s No. 5 oil exporter, has tightened cyber security since 2010 when its uranium enrichment centrifuges were hit by the Stuxnet computer worm, which it blames on Israel or the United States.

Neither country has acknowledged planting the worm.

Iran has reported several computer attacks in recent months and a Revolutionary Guard commander said last month the country would defend itself in case of a “cyber war.”

Tehran is seeking to develop a national Internet system, which it says would improve cyber security.

However, many Iranians say the plan is the latest way to control their access to the Web, which is already highly censored.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 09, 2012, on page 9.




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