All Iranian ministries and state bodies will go offline from next month to shield the country from an "untrustworthy" worldwide web that rests in the "hands of one or two specific countries."
Britain's Daily Telegraph reported that Iranian Minister of Communication and Information Technology Reza Taqipour announced the move at a conference at Tehran's Amir Kabir University on Sunday.
"The establishment of the national intelligence network will create a situation where the precious intelligence of the country won't be accessible to these powers," he said, adding that this was the first phase in moving the country away from a global internet and toward a national intranet by the end of 2013. Iran announced in April 2011 that it would introduce a heavily censored system in line with Islamic law, similar to the intranet platform developed in North Korea.
The move is apparently part of the Iranian government's attempts to protect its internal systems from viruses like Stuxnet and Flame that have hacked and infected its systems in recent years. Iran accuses Israel and the U.S of being responsible for the viruses. The Stuxnet worm causes extensive damage to Iran's uranium enrichment program, while Flame targeted Iran's oil ministry and main export terminal and monitored systems in Iran and other nations across the Middle East and North Africa, according to the website Wired.
The announcement came just a week after Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, joined the photo-sharing application Instagram. Khamenei is also on Twitter.