Publish date16 Mar 2019 - 9:37
Story Code : 409200

US officials offered Iranian engineer cash to take down Tehran’s power grid: Report

Middle East commentator and analyst Sharmine Narwani, a former senior associate at Oxford University, has claimed that an Iranian-American engineer was offered money by US officials to conduct a sabotage mission targeting the power grid of Tehran, Iran's capital city.
US officials offered Iranian engineer cash to take down Tehran’s power grid: Report
Narwani revealed on Thursday that the engineer, a friend of hers whom she did not name for security reasons, was approached twice by “US State Department employees” following Iran's 2009 post-election unrest and was offered $250,000 to carry out the operation.
The agents allegedly described the operation as “very simple”, demanding that the engineer goes to a specific area in Tehran and apply a specific code in a communication device during his upcoming trip to the city.
The engineer, however, allegedly declined to carry out the operation and ultimately notified Narwani in 2010.
Speaking to Narwani, the engineer had also expressed shock that US officials knew of his planned trip to Tehran and also knew that he was “cash-strapped" at the time.
Narwani explained her initial acquaintance with the Iranian engineer by saying that she and her Iranian-American husband "ran an internet company in the telecommunications industry in Washington years ago and I was a founding member of the Iranian-American Technology Council."
The journalist further wrote that she discussed the matter with "a colleague with an engineering background" who explained that the code could have been used to hack or deactivate power grids "governed by electronic or computer systems."
"You don’t have to physically be there if you can hack into it, but that’s of course harder. If they (the Americans) needed to have someone physically there during the sabotage attempt, it probably means they didn’t have remote access to the system,” the engineer added.
Narwani said that she sought to publicize the revelations after news spread about similar suspected sabotage operations targeting Venezuela's power grid this month. 
Last week, an overheating incident knocked out Venezuela's main hydroelectric dam, causing a widespread and ongoing electrical blackout, affecting 23 of the country’s 24 states. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has accused the US of masterminding a “demonic” plot to destroy his country and force him from power by waging an “electromagnetic attack".
The heightening tension comes as opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself “interim president” of Venezuela in January, vowing to topple Maduro.
The US has openly backed Guaido, imposing economic sanctions on Venezuela and confiscating the country's state oil assets based in the US to channel them to Guaido.
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