Trump strongly denies the operation, while some analysts interpret it as a response to the US dirty war against Tehran
Iran has announced Monday the detention of 17 Iranian citizens and the death sentence of several of them, the result of the dismantling of a spy network in the service of the CIA, which was reported last June. It is not the first time that Tehran claims to have broken up similar cells, often for internal consumption, but the coincidence with the current tensions with the United States makes it fear that it is hardening its attitude. On this occasion, the Ministry of Intelligence has even distributed photographs of US agents who would have been in contact with the alleged Iranian spies that, if real, would be a setback for Washington.
"The identified spies worked in key private sector centers linked to the economy, nuclear [research], infrastructure, the military or cyber field ... where they collected confidential information," said the Ministry of Intelligence statement quoted by PressTV, but also echoed by other Iranian media (all under state control).
The general director of the Iranian counterintelligence, whose name has not been provided, explained in a press conference that the 17 arrests were carried out over the past year (from the Iranian calendar, which ended on March 21) and that several of them have been sentenced to death. Those who cooperated with the Iranian secret services to get information about the US UU. They have received long prison sentences. Although he has said that among the detainees there were no officials and that they failed to carry out any sabotage, the investigation remains open.
According to the person in charge, the espionage operations of EE. UU. within Iran they have increased under the presidency of Donald Trump. Shortly after their intervention, Iranian media have begun publishing images of alleged "CIA spies" who would have been in contact with the 17 detainees. If they were genuine, they would be revealing the identity of undercover agents, something that would not only be a blow to the United States, but could endanger their lives.
Trump has described the information provided by Tehran as "totally false." "There are only more lies and propaganda (such as the shooting down of a drone) spread by a religious regime that is seriously failing and has no idea what to do," the US president snapped in his Twitter account this Monday morning, he reports. Amanda Mars “Its economy is dead and will get much worse. Iran is a total disaster! ” Few later, in statements to the press in the White House, he was more combative. "They lie a lot, we grab some of their drones and say it didn't happen," he said. "It is getting harder and harder to reach an agreement with them, anything can happen," he said. He also said that the United States is "prepared for the worst."
The announcement comes amid growing tensions with Tehran over its atomic program and its decision to capture a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. Since last year EE. UU. unilaterally abandoned the nuclear agreement signed in 2015 and reimposed its sanctions on Iran, has been increasing its pressure on it to force it to renegotiate it. Asphyxiated economically by not being able to sell its oil, the Islamic regime has begun to transgress that pact and to mitigate with gestures that threaten navigation in waters through which a fifth of the oil consumed in the world circulates.
"It must be seen in the broader context of the dirty war that the United States is carrying out under its policy of maximum pressure," Narges Bajoghli, a Iranian specialist and professor at the University's School of Advanced International Studies, explains to EL PAÍS Johns Hopkins in Washington. "The United States has increased its undercover actions, the money that goes to the Iranian opposition satellite networks, there is a huge campaign on social networks ... So Iran has put everything together and tries to respond with the complaint of the spy network, "he interprets.
In fact, the Revolutionary Guard has broadcast a 19-minute docudrama in which the confessions of the alleged spies, who are not identified and whose faces appear blurred, are interspersed with scenes from the Mission Impossible movie and a supposed reconstruction of how the CIA captured the Iranians.
The head of counterintelligence has revealed that several of those involved were recruited when they went to apply for visas or to renew them. Since EE. UU. has not had diplomatic representation in Iran for four decades, the alleged trap must have been set in neighboring countries. Some were captured through fake companies that offered them work or material and others received proposals from diplomats who approached them during scientific conferences in Europe, Asia or Africa. All of them, he said, were trained by American agents.
“It is difficult to know what is true in the information because the name of the detainees has not been released, but the message that [the Revolutionary Guard] conveys is that it knows what is happening, it has it under control and is capable of face it, ”says Bajoghli, who has studied the propaganda apparatus of that army on the ground for a decade. Remember also that social activists have repeatedly denounced that sanctions have resulted in a deterioration of public freedoms.
It is therefore a message to Iranian public opinion, but also to the international one as it warns that an eventual confrontation with Iran will affect beyond its borders and, as officials of the National Guard have warned, will become a regional conflict "Tehran did not expect that the oil embargo would hurt him so much, but this time, unlike previous sanctions, Trump's decision to lift internal regulations that have allowed US crude oil to be put on the market is weighing," Bajoghli points.