Trump blasts ‘totally false’ Iran claim of US spy network

Iranian state news agency said the authorities caught 17 spies. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 July 2019

Trump blasts ‘totally false’ Iran claim of US spy network

  • Iranian state television published images it said showed the CIA officers who were in touch with the suspected spies.
  • Trump says Iran claim of breaking up CIA network ‘totally false’

JEDDAH: US leaders on Monday dismissed a claim by Tehran that it had smashed a CIA spy network operating in Iran.

Donald Trump said the Iranian claim was “totally false, zero truth.”

“Just more lies and propaganda, like their shot-down drone, put out by a religious regime that is badly failing and has no idea what to do,” the US president said. “Their economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess.”


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also rejected the claim by Tehran. “The Iranian regime has a long history of lying,” he said.


Iran’s Intelligence Ministry claimed on Monday that 17 CIA spies had been arrested in the 12 months to March 2019. “Some were sentenced to death and some to long-term imprisonment,” it said.

Those arrested had been “employed at sensitive and crucial centers, working as contractors or consultants,” a ministry official said. Their mission was to collect classified information.

Some of the “spies” were recruited by falling into a visa trap set by the CIA for Iranians seeking to travel to the US, the ministry said. “Some were approached when they were applying for a visa, while others had visas from before and were pressured by the CIA in order to renew them.”

Others were “lured” by promises of cash, high-paying jobs and even medical services for seriously ill family members.

Boasts about smashing spy networks are not unusual in Iran, and are usually for domestic consumption. But analysts believe the timing suggests a hardening of the Iranian position after their seizure last week of a British tanker in the Gulf.


Gulf confrontation a battle of nerves 

 Iran faces long road before it is trusted by neighbors

UK Prime Minister Theresa May chaired a meeting of the COBRA security emergency committee on Monday to calibrate the British response. Later Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told Parliament that Britain was proposing a European-led maritime protection mission in the Gulf to protect commercial vessels from Iran’s “state piracy,” and had been in talks with a number of countries in the past 48 hours.

The UK will ask British-flagged ships to give notice of plans to pass through the Strait of Hormuz, Hunt said. “We will then advise them as to the safest way to transit, which may involve traveling in convoy.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a former CIA director, declined on Monday to address specifics of the arrests. But he added that “the Iranian regime has a long history of lying.”
Pompeo pointed to differences between the US and Iranian accounts of the location of an unmanned US drone the Iranians shot down in June, among other incidents.
“I think everyone should take with a grain of salt everything that the Islamic Republic of Iran asserts today,” he said. “They have 40 years of history of them lying, so we should all be cautious reporting things that the Iranian leadership tells us.”
Pompeo, speaking to The Associated Press over the phone, said that the world is “watching the Iranian regime understand that they’ve got a real challenge, that America and the world understands that they are a rogue regime conducting terror campaigns.”
Iran occasionally announces the detention of people it says are spying for foreign countries, including the US and Israel. In June, Iran said it executed a former staff member of the Defense Ministry who was convicted of spying for the CIA.
In April, Iran said it uncovered 290 CIA spies both inside and outside the country over the past years.

Turkey to host Syria summit with Russia, Iran on September 16

Updated 12 min 25 sec ago

Turkey to host Syria summit with Russia, Iran on September 16

  • The summit will be in Ankara
  • The leaders will discuss the situation in Idlib and the political situation
ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will host his Russian and Iranian counterparts for a summit on Syria in Ankara on September 16, the presidential spokesman said.
Despite being on opposing sides in the Syrian conflict, Syria regime backers Iran and Russia have worked closely with rebel supporter Turkey to find a political solution.
“The president will host a three-way summit with the participation of Russia and Iran in Ankara,” spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said late Wednesday.
The announcement of the meeting between President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Erdogan comes at a time when Syrian forces have made advances into the last rebel stronghold of Idlib in Syria’s northwest.
The region, which has been under heavy bombardment since April, was supposed to be protected by a buffer zone deal signed between Turkey and Russia last year.
The leaders will discuss Idlib, as well as the establishment of a constitution commission and how the political process should continue, Kalin said.
Turkey is keen to prevent a large-scale offensive in Idlib — home to three million people — where Turkey has 12 observation posts.
The last meeting between the leaders was in February and the September event will be the fifth summit between Putin, Rouhani and Erdogan since November 2017.
Kalin said Erdogan would speak on the phone with Putin in the coming days, adding that preparations were being made for another call with US President Donald Trump.