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Iran’s CIA arrests claimed as “propaganda by a religious regime”

The Intelligence ministry of Iran has announced the arrest of 17 CIA spies, with an undisclosed number of them receiving a death sentence. Iran has added that the spies had been arrested over a 12 month period which ended in March 2019. 

The head of the intelligence ministry’s espionage department, quoted by the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) said “Sentences for these spies have been issued, some of whom are to be put to death as ‘corruptors on earth'”. The charge of ‘corruptors on Earth’  is punishable by a death sentence according to Iranian law. 

Donald Trump has denied these Iranian claims, tweeting out “The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is 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. Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!” 

Additionally, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has supported Trump’s stance and added fuel to it when stating that the Islamic Republic “has a long history of lying.” Pompeo told Fox News that “It’s part of the nature of the Ayatollah to lie to the world, I would take with a significant grain of salt any Iranian assertion about actions that they’ve taken.” 

Although the statement was not made in a direct address towards the Iranian arrest of CIA agents, it’s timing strongly suggests it is referring to it. When asked specifically about the arrest, Pompeo said he “can’t add much to it specifically,” perhaps reflecting the secrecy of the Iranian intelligence about the details of the arrests.

Geopolitical Context

Tensions between Iran and the US have already been high for several months, ever since Trump controversially pulled out of the nuclear deal between Iran and the US, the Persian gulf has hosted a situation of heightened hostility, as Iranian forces shot down a U.S. drone in June, nearly provoking a U.S. response, after which the US brought down an Iranian drown that approached the USS Boxer in the Strait of Hormuz, where Iran later also seized a US based tanker. 

The latest arrests reported by Iran provide further fuel to a fire that is already burning between the US and Iran, and despite the US denying the event, they will see it as an act of aggression and defiance by Iran. Meanwhile, it seems that the Iranian government are using this situation to display their independence and persistence in continuing their nuclear program after the US’s breach of the agreement. 

We bring this up because most of the CIA agents reportedly arrested are said to have been spies in the uranium production plants. It remains to be seen how the US will respond in the next days, but implications tell us that they will not take the latest developments lightly.

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