December 26, 2011, midday


Question one: Given the soft-landing downing of a U.S. RQ-170 drone in Iran, the question is: Can Iran use cyberwarfare to disable U.S. drones, planes and ships?

On December 25, 2011, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said, “Islamic Iran has very high capabilities in all areas of defense, (including) employing drones and decoding them, electronic warfare and anti-electronic warfare as well as countering covert wars against the Islamic Republic of Iran and by itself has achieved such a level of success under the most difficult circumstances and (under) comprehensive sanctions. Therefore, it will easily enhance (its capabilities) and maintain them,” d Iran has very high capabilities particularly in decoding unmanned aircraft.”

Question Two: Are the Velayat-90 war games an exercise into closing the Straits of Hormuz?

On December 26, 2011, the preliminary stage of Iran’s 10-day naval war games, entitled Velayat-90, was completed in the area from the Straits of Hormuz to the Gulf of Aden (1,250-mile stretch) in the vicinity of Oman, Yemen, Pakistan, India, and northern Somalia. Rear Admiral Mahmoud Mousavi, said that during the preliminary stage of the war games, submarines of the Tareq class successfully fired electrically propelled torpedoes for the first time. Next, the naval vessels, submarines and helicopters will move into the main stage of the war games. These games are different form prior games in that they are larger and a wider variety of weapons are being tested. Submarines of the Ghadir class and other classes, warships, missile-firing destroyers, coast-to-sea missile systems, drones, and electronic warfare equipment will be tested during the exercises.

Rear Admiral Mousavi announced on December 24, “We saw a helicopter of an extra-regional country enter our units’ area of operation, and the helicopter was forced to leave the area after receiving repeated warning signals.”

Key to any future open war between Iran and the U.S. and/or Israel is Iran’s threat to close the Straits of Hormuz, the only access channel for U.S. –aligned, Gulf Arab states tor foreign markets. Iran has not closed the strait during these current war games.

Question Three: What is Iran’s point of no return – when attempting closing the Straits is, in its view, its only alterative?

80% of Iran’s economy involves oil. An embargo on the purchase of Iranian crude oil and/or the sanctioning of Iranian Central Bank could be cause enough for Iran to close the Straits.

Recently, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved banning firms from doing business with Iran’s central bank. Obama has yet to sign this measure. The European Union has agreed to impose fresh sanctions on 180 Iranian officials and firms over Tehran's nuclear program and may move to target Iran’s energy sector in January 2012, when they will consider an oil embargo. On December 14, the House of Representatives passed the Iran Threat Reductions Act (HR 1905). An amendment proposed by hawk Ileana Ros-Lehtinen effectively bars US officials from even speaking to the Iranians with minor exceptions

Japan has extended its sanctions on Iran which bringing the 267 organizations, 66 individuals and 20 banks under embargo. South Korea may also join in sanctions.

Are the current military war games a drill on how to close the Straits of Hormuz? It is Iran's only real strategy against bombing of its nuclear sites by the U.S. and/or Isreal. The Straits are important because: a) It is the only waterway through which eight littoral states of the Persian Gulf can have access to international waters; b) Every 10 minutes an oil ship passes through; c) 90 percent of oil exports which come from the Persian Gulf must pass through; d) 40 percent of world oil demand is supplied from the Persian Gulf; e) Weapons bought by the littoral states in the Persian Gulf from the U.S. and Europe must pass through.

Earlier this month, Parviz Sorouri, a member of the Iranian Majlis (parliament) National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said that Iran plans to practice its ability to close the Strait of Hormuz. However, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said later that closing the Strait of Hormuz is not on Iran's agenda.

On December 21, 2011, Iran's permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Ali-Asghar Soltanieh said Iran invited IAEA inspectors to visit the country's nuclear sites.

Turkey has decided to host NATO’s Malatya-based ballistic missile early warning radar system. It will be operative next week. The missile is designed to intercept missile from “rogue states”. Iran comes to mind.

Question four: Can Iran employ its own drones to counter U.S. covert operations against it?

On December 26, 2011, Iran's Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi said Iran can employ drones and cyber intelligence warfare. Will Iran be testing this intelligence ability against U.S. systems? It does not need naval drills to do this.

In RT online 12/14/11 an article entitled Cyber war accelerates between Iran and US stated: ( )

The Spanish-language television network Univision has aired a program in which undercover footage allegedly shows Iranian officials discussing ways to go about an attack on America’s infrastructure, specifically attempting to recruit Mexican computer hackers to target the Department of Defense and the CIA’s computer systems.

According to the Washington Times, US officials are now investigating reports that authorities from Iran and Venezuela plotted cyber attacks against America’s military, in what comes as the latest revelation in a quickly unraveling story of cyber war escalating between Tehran and Washington. In the most recent news break, however, a front to the south of the United States could be opening up as Iran tries to take down the American military with the aid of hackers living only next door.

The Times’ report alleges that hackers were discussing potential attacks on the DoD and Central Intelligence Agency….

In the case of the RQ170 Sentinel craft captured by Tehran, that drone was dispatched from Creech Air Force Base in the state of Nevada. Earlier this year, RT reported that a key-logger virus infiltrated the cockpits of crafts in the base, with Air Force personnel left in the dark until days after the infection took hold. Military personnel later shrugged the incident off as a nuisance and nothing more, but with two drones in two weeks now mysteriously going off the radar, American eyes are now looking towards Tehran — and perhaps a partnership with international hackers — as the threat of an all-out cyber war escalates.

In the report published this week by the Washington Times, it is alleged that the Mexican hackers instructed by Iranian officials were told to crack passwords that would allow for access into protected American computer systems.

Univision says that among the targets intended in the attack against America were nuclear facilities. Coincidently, the nuclear infrastructure of Iran was threatened in 2010 by a computer worm named Stuxnet, believed by many to be the brainchild of American programmers. Earlier in 2011, researcher Ralph Langner told an audience at a TED talk that he thought Stuxnet was of Israeli origin, but added, "The leading force behind Stuxnet is the cyber superpower – there is only one; and that's the United States."….

The Washington Times adds in their report that State Department spokesman William Ostick believes federal authorities to be investigating the allegation brought forth against Iran by Univision, but formally has declared that officials lack information that corroborates on the allegation. Senator Robert Menendez (NJ-Dem) is now also calling for a congressional hearing to investigate Iranian action in Latin America. Menendez also sits as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.

“If Iran is using regional actors to facilitate and direct activities against the United States, this would represent a substantial increase in the level of the Iranian threat and would necessitate an immediate response,” Menendez says.

Earlier in 2011, American authorities alleged that Iran had recruited members from a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States on American soil. While the plot was foiled by US intelligence, the latest revelations add a new piece to a puzzle that shows an increasingly tense standoff between Tehran and Washington.

Also, on December 25, 2011, to add fuel to the fire, Iran denied it is harboring alleged al-Qaida operative, Syrian-born Yasin al-Suri, also known as Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil. The U.S. says al-Suri has been operating inside Iran since 2005 under an agreement between al-Qaida and the Iranian government. A 410 million reward is on his head. Also on the 25th, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast rejected a December 22 New York court ruling that found Iran liable for helping al-Qaida to carry out the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. Relatives of the 911 victims brought this lawsuit. Iran has always denied any connections to the 911 attacks and to al Qaeda.

Samuel Coleridge

All thoughts, all passions, all delights,
Whatever stirs this mortal frame,
All are but ministers of Love,
And feed his sacred flame.

Oft in my waking dreams do I
Live o'er again that happy hour,
When midway on the mount I lay,
Beside the ruined tower.

The moonshine, stealing o'er the scene
Had blended with the lights of eve ;
And she was there, my hope, my joy,
My own dear Genevieve !

She leant against the armйd man,
The statue of the armйd knight ;
She stood and listened to my lay,
Amid the lingering light.

Few sorrows hath she of her own,
My hope ! my joy ! my Genevieve !
She loves me best, whene'er I sing
The songs that make her grieve.

I played a soft and doleful air,
I sang an old and moving story--
An old rude song, that suited well
That ruin wild and hoary.

She listened with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes and modest grace ;
For well she know, I could not choose
But gaze upon her face.

I told her of the Knight that wore
Upon his shield a burning brand ;
And that for ten long years he wooed
The Lady of the Land.

I told her how he pined : and ah !
The deep, the low, the pleading tone
With which I sang another's love,
Interpreted my own.

She listened with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes, and modest grace ;
And she forgave me, that I gazed
Too fondly on her face !

But when I told the cruel scorn
That crazed that bold and lovely Knight,
And that he crossed the mountain-woods,
Nor rested day nor night ;

That sometimes from the savage den,
And sometimes from the darksome shade,
And sometimes starting up at once
In green and sunny glade,--

There came and looked him in the face
An angel beautiful and bright ;
And that he knew it was a Fiend,
This miserable Knight !

And that unknowing what he did,
He leaped amid a murderous band,
And saved from outrage worse than death
The Lady of the Land !

And how she wept, and clasped his knees ;
And how she tended him in vain--
And ever strove to expiate
The scorn that crazed his brain ;--

And that she nursed him in a cave ;
And how his madness went away,
When on the yellow forest-leaves
A dying man he lay ;--

His dying words--but when I reached
That tenderest strain of all the ditty,
My faultering voice and pausing harp
Disturbed her soul with pity !

All impulses of soul and sense
Had thrilled my guileless Genevieve ;
The music and the doleful tale,
The rich and balmy eve ;

And hopes, and fears that kindle hope,
An undistinguishable throng,
And gentle wishes long subdued,
Subdued and cherished long !

She wept with pity and delight,
She blushed with love, and virgin-shame ;
And like the murmur of a dream,
I heard her breathe my name.

Her bosom heaved--she stepped aside,
As conscious of my look she stepped--
The suddenly, with timorous eye
She fled to me and wept.

She half enclosed me with her arms,
She pressed me with a meek embrace ;
And bending back her head, looked up,
And gazed upon my face.

'Twas partly love, and partly fear,
And partly 'twas a bashful art,
That I might rather feel, than see,
The swelling of her heart.

I calmed her fears, and she was calm,
And told her love with virgin pride ;
And so I won my Genevieve,
My bright and beauteous Bride.

                  Watteau, Couple seated in a garden