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.


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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.


Reza Pahlavi, son of Iran’s last shah, says regime is cracking from within

Updated 26 January 2020

Reza Pahlavi, son of Iran’s last shah, says regime is cracking from within

  • ahlavi strongly backed the US drone strike that killed the powerful Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani
  • "How long can it possibly be sustained?”

LONDON: The former crown prince of Iran says the regime is cracking from within under the pressure of a wave of fresh protests.

Reza Pahlavi, the son of the last shah, was just 17 when he fled into exile with his family during the 1979 Islamic revolution that overthrew the monarchy.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, he said the demonstrations, which have included chants for the royal family to return, show that the current regime may be coming to an end.

“The cracking from within of the system is getting more and more obvious,” he said. “When you look at the circumstances in Iran today, put yourselves in the shoes of the worst-off — how long can it possibly be sustained?”

The protests intensified in November after an increase in fuel prices. Vast crowds demonstrated in cities across the country before the regime cut the internet and killed hundreds of people in a brutal crackdown.

Large numbers returned to the streets this month, angered by the shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger jet by the Iranian military, and Tehran’s initial insistence that it was an accident.

“The protests are very pervasive, in many sectors of society,” Pahlavi, 59, said in Washington where he lives. “They are all over the country. And a new development we haven’t seen before: the so-called silent middle class, which until now were not taking positions, are beginning to speak out.

“I’m not saying this is a guaranteed collapse. But the ingredients that get us closer to that point seem to be more prevailing these days than ever before.”

Pahlavi said he no longer has any desire to return to the throne, despite once being a rallying point for opposition groups after his father died in 1980.

However, he said he believed there could be a new Iran after the fall of the clerical regime and that his role could be as a go-between for the Iranian diaspora, foreign governments and opposition groups inside Iran.

“To the extent that there is a name recognition, I can utilise that,” he said. “I have no ambition of any kind of role or function or title. I’d like to be an advocate for the people. I don’t let any of this go to my head, I’ve been around too long for that.”

Pahlavi strongly backed the US drone strike that killed the powerful Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani “as a breakthrough that is positive for the region.”

He also backs the punishing US sanctions introduced when Washington withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal.

He said he hopes one day to be able to return to his homeland.

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