A senior Iranian security official said on Monday that Tehran had dismantled “one of the most complicated” espionage operations by the United States Central Intelligence Agency, leading to “arrests and confessions” of suspects in several countries. The announcement was made by Ali Shamkhani (pictured), secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, the Islamic Republic’s highest security decision-making body, which is chaired by the country’s president.
Speaking in Tehran to reporters from pro-government news agencies, including IRIB and Fars News, Shamkhani said that Iran had “exposed” what he described as a CIA-run cyber espionage network, which carried out “operations in different countries”. He said the alleged espionage network had been detected by Iranian counterintelligence agencies “some time ago and was dismantled”. Iran’s counterintelligence actions had led to the “identification and arrest of CIA intelligence agents”, said Shamkhani, many of whom had been arrested “in different countries”. The arrests occurred after Iran “shared the information about the exposed network with our allies”, said Shamkhani, which led to the “disclosure and dismantling of a network of CIA officers” as well as the “detention and punishment of several spies”. Shamkhani did not specify the number of people arrested, or in which countries, but appeared to refer to both CIA personnel and local assets. He concluded his remarks by saying that Iran was building a regional alliance “to counter American espionage”. He also urged Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence to release “videos and confessions” relating to the arrests.
Meanwhile, Iranian anti-government groups based abroad alleged on Monday that a senior official in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps was arrested in Tehran for allegedly working for Israel. The unidentified individual is believed to have helped Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency gain access to the archive of the Iranian nuclear program in 2018, and steal an unspecified number of classified documents. It is not known whether this alleged arrest is connected with Shamkhani’s announcement on Monday.
The United States will send about 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East in response to White House claims that Iran attacked two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week, Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan said. "The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region," Shanahan said in a statement on Monday, Reuters news agency reported.
EU foreign ministers remained unconvinced by US allegations that Iran was behind last week’s attack on two Gulf tankers as they arrived at a meeting on Monday.
Iran certainly isn't planning on backing down in the face of Washington's accusations about the country's role in last week's tanker bombings, and as a result, the possibility of a boots-on-the-ground military conflict in the Islamic Republic cannot yet be ruled out. Making an already tense situation infinitely more precarious, Iran on Monday reminded the world that it's preparing to violate the terms of the Iran deal during the next ten days.
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