Here’s a place we’ve been before.
Iran claimed today it has arrested 17 Iranian nationals allegedly recruited by the CIA to spy on the country’s nuclear and military sites and that some have already been sentenced to death. PDT was sure to hop on the Twitter to let everyone know the Iranians were full of it.
The arrests supposedly took place in the Iranian calendar year ending in March 2019. Iranian intel says those taken into custody worked in “sensitive areas,” most likely referring to nuclear sites.
They didn’t say how many of them got the death sentence or when the sentences were handed down. Iranian state television published images it said showed the CIA officers who were in contact with the alleged spies. In the event they’re telling the truth, I won’t be showing the pictures.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a former CIA man himself, kept his response succinct: “The Iranian regime has a long history of lying.”
“It’s part of the nature of the ayatollah to lie to the world,” he said. “I would take with a significant grain of salt any Iranian assertion about actions that they’ve taken. Iran behaves in ways that normal nations don’t. You don’t take other countries’ citizens and hold them hostages for political gain. I think this is just further evidence of the outlaw nature of the Iranian regime.”
The Iranian announcement came as Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers is unraveling and tensions have spiked in the Persian Gulf region. The crisis stems from President Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of Tehran’s deal last year and intensify sanctions on Iran.
Iranian intel says none of the accused spies were successful in their missions, which allegedly included collecting information at the facilities they worked at, carrying out technical and intelligence activities and transferring and installing monitoring devices. The spies were allegedly offered U.S. visas or jobs in America and that some of the agents had turned and were now working with Iran against the U.S.
The Iranian intel spokesman handed out a CD with a video recording of an alleged foreign female spy working for the CIA. The disc also included names of several U.S. Embassy staff in Turkey, India, Zimbabwe and Austria who Iran claims were in touch with the recruited Iranian spies.
Be it real of fabricated, Iran has been on a serious offensive against spies within their own ranks as of late. Last month, the regime 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. We don’t yet know whether this latest arrest is tied to that mass operation.
Most people just want to know the truth here. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to discern. The fact is, there is plenty of reason to believe both sides in this scenario.
Secretary Pompeo is correct that Iran lies with regularity. It’s one of the reasons the Iran Deal was so foolish, as no one who is familiar with the Iranian regime would trust them to keep their word after receiving a ransom payment. Additionally, the regime is known to make announcements of spy captures and their subsequent trials solely for domestic consumption. With an economy that isn’t exactly soaring at the moment due to the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign, the Ayatollah makes a point of publicly showing action against those blame for the state of their country.
On the flip side, the CIA has absolutely recruited spies to work within Iran, as has Israel and several other countries. The Iranians aren’t telling a far-fetched story, and it should surprise no one should it be revealed true. Hillary Clinton even got one of our informants within the Iranian nuke program hung from a crane after letting his name fly in her unsecured server.
One might as well flip a coin when deciding what to believe in this case. Winston Churchill once described Russian politics as “two bulldogs wrestling under a rug.” The same could very well be said of the Iran/U.S. relationship, as very few people get a clear view of exactly what’s happening, and they’re not the types to broadcast it.
My personal feeling is that the Iranians are bluffing, but I wouldn’t bet the farm either way.
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