TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Iran said on Monday U.S. cyber terrorist attacks on its military had failed, as Washington sought to rally support in the Middle East and Europe for a hardline stance against Tehran.
The confrontation has escalated since May, when Washington sharply tightened economic sanctions on Iran, ordering all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil, in what the Trump administration says is an effort to force Tehran to open talks on its nuclear and missile programs and influential regional role.
The United States is expected to announce another round of new sanctions this week.
U.S. media have reported that Washington launched cyber attacks last week. The Washington Post said on Saturday that the cyber strikes, which had been planned previously, had disabled Iranian rocket launch systems. U.S. officials have declined to comment.
"They try hard, but have not carried out a successful attack,” Muhammad Javad Azari Jahromi, Iran’s minister for information and communications technology, said on Twitter.
"Media asked if the claimed cyber attacks against Iran are true,” he said. "Last year we neutralized 33 million attacks with the (national) firewall.”
"We have been facing cyber-terrorism for a long time...Last year we neutralized 33 million attacks with the (national) firewall," Jahromi noted.
The attacks came shortly after the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) shot down a U.S. Navy RQ-4A global Hawk drone that had entered Iranian airspace in the Persian Gulf region to gather intelligence.
Azari Jahromi called attacks on Iranian computer networks "cyber-terrorism", referring to Stuxnet, the first publicly known example of a virus used to attack industrial machinery, which targeted Iran's nuclear facilities in November 2007.
Stuxnet, widely believed to have been developed by the United States and the occupying regime of Israel, was discovered in 2010 after it was used to attack a uranium enrichment facility in the Iranian city of Natanz.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo jetted to the Middle East to discuss Iran with the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two Persian Gulf Arab allies that favor a hard line. Pompeo met King Salman as well as the king’s son, de facto ruler Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman.
Pompeo said ahead of the trip that he sought to build a "global coalition” against Iran and planned to discuss the available options with his counterparts in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
On Monday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman dismissed the attempts, saying such measures are destined to fail. "The push to form a coalition against Iran is nothing new; these coalitions have failed so far” Mousavi told reporters during regular weekly news briefing.
"Iran is a powerful country neighboring 15 other nations; therefore, forming a coalition against Iran is difficult and they will fail even if they travel to the region every day,” the spokesman said.
The U.S. special representative for Iran, Brian Hook, visited Oman and was headed to Europe to explain U.S. policy to allies. He told European reporters on a phone call ahead of his arrival that President Donald Trump was willing to sit down with Iran.
Mousavi dismissed those overtures as he hit out at contradictory American remarks, which he said, indicate a divide among U.S. government officials.
Throughout the recent crisis, Trump has wavered between bellicose language and actions toward Iran and a more accommodating tone, including an offer for negotiations. Iran has said it is not interested in a dialogue with Trump.
"Sometimes they list conditions and sometimes they remove those conditions. That is why we do not bother with overtures, nor do we count on them. Practical action is what matters to us," Mousavi said.
The spokesman reiterated Tehran’s support for de-escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf region.
"Despite the ongoing pressures and rhetoric, diplomacy continues and diplomatic initiatives, either from Iran or from regional and trans-regional countries, are underway to reduce tensions in the region,” he said.
U.S.-Iran relations have deteriorated over the past year since the United States abandoned a 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers designed to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions.