Zarif made the remarks in an interview to air Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press”, conducted during his visit to New York.
When “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd noted that US intelligence included Iran among the countries attempting to interfere with the US election, Zarif responded, “We don’t have a preference in your election to intervene in that election.”
“We don’t interfere in the internal affairs of another country,” Zarif said later. “But there is a cyber-war going on.”
Zarif accused the US of initiating a cyberwar with his country and warned that “any war the United States starts it won’t be able to finish.”
“The United States started that cyber war, with attacking our nuclear facilities in a very dangerous, irresponsible way that could’ve killed millions of people. You remember Stuxnet?” Zarif said.
Stuxnet was a computer virus that is widely believed to be a joint creation of the US and Israel and is blamed for disrupting thousands of Iranian centrifuges in an effort to damage its nuclear program.
“So there is a cyber-war … and Iran is engaged in that cyber war. But the United — any war that the United States starts, it won’t be able to finish.”
The Washington Post reported in June 2012 that the US National Security Agency (NSA), its spy service CIA, and Israel’s military had worked together to launch Stuxnet against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
In late 2015, Iran’s then Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hossein Jaberi-Ansari, called the attacks that came in 2011 “illegal,” saying Tehran had never responded with “reciprocal cyber-attacks.”
In November 2016, Iran’s top nuclear official said the cyber-attack had worked against the US and Israel’s intended objectives and instead helped improve the Islamic Republic’s readiness against such acts of sabotage.