American officials are clearly worried about rival’s cyber-war capacity.
Iran is claiming to have blocked a US-backed cyberattack on its oil ministry during the last two months, in the latest major dispute over cyber-war between the two countries.
Speaking at a cybercrime forum, the head of the country’s cyber-police told reporters of the attempted attack which took place at the end of March, prompting diplomatic action from Iran’s foreign ministry.
In remarks reported by Fars New Agency, Seyed Kamal Hadianfarm, the brigadier general who leads Iran’s cyber-police (FATA), said: "The Cyber Attacks Emergency Centre in FATA has thwarted hackers’ attack against the oil ministry.
"These hackers were from the US and we informed [the US officials] of the issue in an official letter, and also issued an international judicial order. The issue is now being pursued by the foreign ministry."
Iran was previously hit in 2010 by the cyber-weapon Stuxnet, widely believed to have been developed by the US and Israel with the intent to damage the country’s nuclear centrifuges and derail its nuclear programme.
However the Middle Eastern power has also been linked to a cyberespionage campaign named Cleaver by the American cybersecurity firm Cylance, which claimed Iran was attacking critical infrastructure belonging to the West.
Whilst both the US and Iran have largely refused to reveal their activities in cyberspace they have been happy to accuse each other of various wrongdoings.
However, in a speech earlier this year Yahya Rahim Safavi, an Iranian major general and military aide boasted that his country had made "eye-catching progress" in cyber-warfare, allowing it to respond to the American attacks.
An NSA document revealed by news site The Intercept around the same time also showed that American spies were worried that Iran had been able to develop cyber-weapons after studying Western tactics.