Taking Cybersecurity Seriously — Former government officials warn against complacency on the cyber front

Chinese hackers “bombard” the Pentagon’s computer systems “by the millions each and every day” searching for a point of entry into the sensitive U.S. computing systems, according to officials speaking at an event on cybersecurity on Tuesday.

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and other high-level former U.S. officials warned during a discussion at The American Center for Democracy (ACD) that the U.S. government is woefully underprepared to combat and repel even the most benign type of cyber attack. Continue reading

Iran’s Ahmadinejad seeks strategic axis with Egypt

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on the first visit to Cairo by an Iranian leader in more than three decades, called for a strategic alliance with Egypt and said he had offered the cash-strapped Arab state a loan, but drew a cool response.

“We must all understand that the only option is to set up this alliance because it is in the interests of the Egyptian and Iranian peoples and other nations of the region,” the official MENA news agency quoted him in remarks to Egyptian journalists published on Wednesday. Continue reading

Ahmadinejad wants to go to Gaza, pray in Jerusalem ‘after liberation’

In layman’s terms, his definition of complete liberation means complete annihilation.

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is due to take part in a summit in Egypt this week, expressed his desire on Monday to visit the neighboring Gaza Strip.

Asked in an interview on the Al-Mayadeen news channel whether he would visit Gaza while in Cairo next week or before his term as president expires in June, he replied: “My wish is bigger than this. I wish to pray in Jerusalem after complete liberation.” Continue reading

Iran: How long can debt-laden US remain world power?

“How long can a government with a $16,000 trillion foreign debt remain a world power?” he asked at a press conference with Kuwaiti media personnel. “The Americans have injected their paper wealth into the world economy and today the aftermaths and negative effects of their pseudo-wealth have plagued them.” Continue reading

Israel might intervene to prevent Syria’s chemical weapons from falling into wrong hands, PM says

Erdoğan holds surprise meeting with Ahmadinejad to ‘bridge differences’ over Assad crisis

Israel would consider a military option against Syria to ensure that the country’s chemical weapons do not reach the hands of extremists, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday. Continue reading

Ahmadinejad Personally Ordered Officers to Syria, Say Sources

Western intelligence officials told the British Telegraph on Thursday that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has personally sanctioned the dispatch of the experienced officers to ensure that the Assad regime survives the threat to its survival.

According to the report, Iran has also shipped hundreds of tons of military equipment, including guns, rockets, and shells to Syria through the regular air corridor that has been established between Damascus and Tehran.

The Iranian operation to support Assad is being masterminded by Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Guards’ Quds force which is responsible for overseeing Iran’s overseas operations. The decision to increase Iran’s support for Syria was taken after the Syrian defense minister and Assad’s brother-in-law were killed in a suicide bomb attack at Syria’s national security headquarters in July, together with a number of other senior defense officials.

The Revolutionary Guards officers were flown to Damascus in chartered Iranian aircraft which were given permission to fly through Iraqi air space, said the report. Iranian military equipment is said to have been shipped to Syria by the same route.

A spokesman for the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI) told the Telegraph that some of the Iranians being held by Syrian opposition groups included several brigadier-generals and a number of colonels who had many years of experience serving in the Revolutionary Guards.

Full article: Ahmadinejad Personally Ordered Officers to Syria, Say Sources (Arutz Sheva 7)

Europe starts stockpiling oil as Iran conflict looms

European governments are rushing to boost stockpiles of crude oil and fuel, anxious to comply with new EU rules and amid reports that Israel is preparing to launch an attack on Iran.

Belgium and the Netherlands have issued tenders to import a total of around 250,000 tonnes of diesel and gasoline for delivery in September and October, their agencies said.

France has also bought diesel and awarded a crude oil tender this week while Belgium is increasing its crude stocks.

“This is yet another unexpected source of support for oil demand… [It] shows how the geopolitical concerns about Iran and Syria are bullish for oil even in the absence of an actual supply disruption,” said Seth Kleinman, head of energy research at Citi.

Iran tensions

European governments appear to be preparing for further supply disruptions in the Middle East as tensions have mounted between Israel and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Israeli media have reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to launch an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities in the Fall.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reacted on Friday, calling Israel a “cancerous tumour” with no place in a future Middle East, drawing an unusually strongly-worded condemnation by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Ashton is acting as chief negotiator for six powers – the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain – that are trying to persuade Iran to scale back its nuclear programme through economic sanctions and diplomacy. They fear Iran’s nuclear programme aims at producing weapons, though Tehran says it serves peaceful purposes only.

EU oil stock directive

An EU directive passed in 2009 and designed to mitigate the impact of a supply crisis requires EU members to hold reserves equal to 90 days of average daily net imports or 61 days of average daily consumption ahead of a December 31 deadline.

One third of the stocks must be held in products, according to the EU directive.

“We are in the process of building stocks to meet our strategic obligations under the new EU rules,” said Alain Demot, general manager of Belgium’s Apetra, adding that more tenders would be issued in coming months.

NEXT STEPS:
  • 31 Dec. 2012: Deadline for member states to communicate measures taken under the EU’s oil stock directive. Under the directive, oil stocks must correspond “at the very least, to 90 days of average daily net imports or 61 days of average daily inland consumption, whichever of the two quantities is greater.”

Full article: Europe starts stockpiling oil as Iran conflict looms (EurActiv)