Iran Arrests 10 on Spy Charges
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran (search) has arrested more than 10 people on charges of revealing its nuclear secrets to Israeli and U.S. intelligence agencies, Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi said.
Yunesi said the 10 were detained in Tehran and in the southern Hormozgan province during the Iranian year that began March 21, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
"These people were spying for Mossad and CIA," IRNA quoted Yunesi as saying. He was referring to the Israel's external secret service and the Central Intelligence Agency (search).
The United States accuses Iran of running a secret program to build a nuclear bomb. Iran says its nuclear programs are purely for energy.
The minister said the identity of those detained will not be revealed before they stand trial but said three of them were employees of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (search) and the rest were not government employees.
They are now in the hands of the hard-line Revolutionary Court, which deals with security crimes, Yunesi said.
Earlier this month, the Intelligence Ministry said it had arrested a spy who had been pretending to work on nuclear centrifuges in order to cast doubt on Tehran's recent agreements to suspend such work.
Iran agreed last month to suspend uranium enrichment and all related activities to try to ward off sanctions for which the United States has pressed. Centrifuges can spin gas into enriched uranium, which can then be used to produce energy or bombs.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (search) agreed to police suspension of Iran's nuclear activities. Under the agreement reached last month with France, Germany and Britain, Iran has suspended its enrichment activities during negotiations with the Europeans on economic, political and technological aid from the 25-nation European Union. Those talks started earlier this month.
Tuesday in Vienna, where the IAEA is based, diplomats told The Associated Press that Tehran is still turning tons of raw uranium into uranium metal and has said it would continue to do so until February, exploiting a loophole in its deal with the Europeans. The metal is a precursor of uranium hexafluoride — a substance that can then be used to produce weapons-grade uranium.
Iran says it will judge within three months whether to either continue suspension. Tehran has threatened to resume all nuclear activities it has suspended if the talks fail to make progress.