Tuesday, 11 August, 2020

Russia, China, Iran trying to sway US election, top US spy alleges

A top official at one of the US government’s spying agencies has warned against alleged attempts of Russia, China and Iran to “sway” the 2020 presidential election.

“We are primarily concerned about the ongoing and potential activity by China, Russia, and Iran,” William Evanina, director of the US National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC), claimed in what he described as an unprecedented statement by the US Intelligence Community (IC) 

“Ahead of the 2020 US elections, foreign states will continue to use covert and overt influence measures in their attempts to sway US voters,” Evanina claimed in his statement on Friday.

He said Russia was already targeting Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, adding that Moscow wanted Biden to lose. “Kremlin-linked actors were trying to “boost President [Donald] Trump’s candidacy via social media and Russian television.”

Meanwhile, China was targeting the Republican presidential candidate, Trump, according to Evanina. He said Trump is seen as “too unpredictable” by Beijing and it would prefer he did not win.

Iran, according to the top US spy, was also opposed to Trump’s re-election. The official said it was likely that Tehran would use online tactics “to discredit US institutions and President Trump and to stir up US voters’ discontent.”

Iran “probably will focus on on-line influence, such as spreading disinformation on social media and recirculating anti-US content,” he said.

“Tehran’s motivation to conduct such activities is, in part, driven by a perception that President Trump’s re-election would result in a continuation of US pressure on Iran in an effort to foment regime change,” he claimed.

After pulling out of the landmark Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, Trump has been running what he refers to as a “maximum pressure” campaign, which seeks to pressure Iran into negotiating a new deal that addresses its ballistic missile program and regional influence. Following several rounds of US sanctions targeting Iran’s oil exports, Washington has also sent warships and bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter what it calls Iran’s threat for shipping in the Persian Gulf.

The Trump administration is currently attempting to persuade other signatories to cancel the deal completely through pushing the remaining parties to the nuclear deal to extend a UN arms embargo against Iran.

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