Iran arrests 12 'CIA spies' for targeting nuclear plans

Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant Iran accuses CIA spies of targeting its nuclear programme

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Iran has arrested 12 spies of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the official IRNA news agency reports.

Parviz Sorouri, an influential lawmaker, said the agents were targeting Iran's military and its nuclear programme.

He said they were operating in co-ordination with Israel's Mossad and other regional agencies.

The United States and its allies suspect Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon program, a charge Tehran denies.

Mr Sorouri, a member of the powerful National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, did not give the nationality of the alleged agents, nor when they were arrested.

"The US and Zionist regime's espionage apparatuses were trying to use regional intelligence services, both inside and outside Iran, in order to deal a strong blow to our country," he was quoted as saying.

"Fortunately, these steps failed due to the quick measures taken by Intelligence Ministry officials," Mr Sorouri said.

Spy ring

The Iranian claim follows reports in the US that Lebanon's Hezbollah has unravelled a CIA spy ring within the Shia militant organisation. Hezbollah has close ties to Iran.

Reports quoting US intelligence officials emerged this week appearing to suggest that a number of US spies had been unmasked and that their lives were now in danger in Lebanon.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah said the reports were true. "Lebanese intelligence vanquished US and Israeli intelligence in what is now known as the intelligence war," he told the AFP news agency.

In June the group's leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, said on TV that he had unmasked at least two CIA spies who had infiltrated the ranks of the organisation.

Although the US Embassy in Beirut initially said there was no substance to the accusations, the Associated Press reports that American officials later conceded that Nasrallah had been telling the truth.

In May, Iran said it had arrested 30 people after breaking up a spy network run by the CIA.

It said the network had operated out of American diplomatic missions in the Malaysia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates to recruit Iranians as spies.

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