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Iranian officials inexplicably exaggerate years old Nitro Zeus cyber threat

Brigadier General Mohammad Hassan Mansourian. Photograph courtesy of PressTV.

Senior officials from Iran’s Civil Defence Organisation warned a conference audience in Tehran of an imminent U.S. and Israeli cyber attack against Iran code-named Nitro Zeus. The only problem is that Nitro Zeus has been shelved by the U.S. and Israel for several years, and was even featured in an acclaimed and popular documentary.

“At present, the US has launched a project named Nitro Zeus with the aim of attacking Iran’s defense and telecommunication infrastructures,” said Alireza Karimi, a senior official in the Iranian Civil Defence Organisation, the organization responsible for Iranian cyber security.

It appears that no one in the audience Karimi addressed was aware that Nitro Zeus was discussed openly and extensively by former U.S. officials in Alex Gibney’s acclaimed documentary Zero Days, released earlier in 2016. It can be only assumed that Karimi and other Civil Defence Organisation officials only learned of Nitro Zeus like everyone else, by watching Gibney’s documentary.

According to Zero Days, Nitro Zeus was a planned cyber campaign against Iran that would have been implemented had the P5+1 and Iranian nuclear talks had failed. As it happens, they did not fail and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is now in place, albeit precariously. As a result, Nitro Zeus has been shelved, and, given the changed political and strategic context as well as the fact that there is a new incoming U.S. administration, is very unlikely to be revived.

Karimi spoke immediately after the head of Iran’s Civil Defence Organisation, Brigadier General Mohammad Hassan Mansourian, who told the conference audience that the CDO is ready to “defuse cyberattacks and cultural invasions.”

SpaceWatch Middle East was unable to ascertain whether U.S. and Israeli officials are using known, yet out-of-date, Iranian plans as a means of threat inflation.

When mentioning “cultural invasions,” Mansourian was referring to what Iranian leaders call the ‘Soft War’ against Iran. The ‘Soft War’ is characterized as radio and satellite television broadcasts, as well as much of the content of the Internet, that, according to Iranian officials, is created and coordinated by Western, Israeli, and Gulf Arab governments with the express purpose of undermining and subverting the sovereignty and authority of the Iranian regime.

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