Iran says capable of jamming foes' communication systems

DUBAI Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:33am EST

DUBAI Jan 15 (Reuters) - Iran can disrupt enemy communication systems as part of its growing "electronic warfare" capabilities, a senior Iranian commander was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

Western analysts say Iran has launched increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks in a growing confrontation with foes, including the United States, Israel and Gulf Arabs, at a time of rising pressure on Tehran to curb its nuclear programme.

For its part, Iran has suffered a string of cyber attacks in the past year targeting industrial sites, an oil export terminal and oil platforms, Iranian officials have said. And a computer worm disrupted its nuclear activity in 2010.

The Islamic Republic has denied accusations that it hacked into U.S. banks last year, but has also devoted resources to building up its cyber defence capabilities.

On Tuesday, Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, Iran's ground forces commander, said that Iran was now capable of disrupting its enemies' communications.

"We have been equipped with electronic warfare systems in order not to remain just a defending force, and rather become able to jam the enemy's communication systems," said Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, Iran's ground forces commander, according to the Fars news agency.

"Communications are highly valuable in future and current wars and our armed forces have realised this completely and have prepared themselves proportionate to today's needs."

It was unclear whether Pourdastan was referring to military targets that Iran might consider a threat or civilian targets, such as what it considers to be subversive foreign media.

Satellite operators and broadcasters have repeatedly accused Iran of jamming their satellite signals. European satellite provider Eutelsat complained to international regulators last year that Iran had jammed signals from Persian-language channels broadcast by the BBC, Voice of America, and other operators.

Iran has tightened online security since its uranium enrichment centrifuges were hit by the Stuxnet computer worm, which Iranian authorities believe was planted by Israel and the United States in a bid to hobble its nuclear programme.

(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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