TEHRAN, Iran – Iran's intelligence minister said Thursday the government had detected a network of U.S and Israeli spies, and detained a second group of people who planned to go abroad for espionage training, state television reported.
But the minister, Gjholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi, did not say any members of the U.S.-Israeli network had been arrested, and nor did he say who the would-be spies would have worked for.
The TV newscaster quoted the minster as telling a group of clerics in the holy city of Qom, 75 miles south of Tehran, that the first group of spies were "agents of the CIA and Mossad espionage services."
"This group was detected and they are in our intelligence net," he said of the spies, implying that they were under surveillance.
The minister said the network had been active along the Iranian border, but did not say which border. Iran has frontiers with Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, and Turkmenistan.
Referring to the second group, he said the government had detained some Iranians who planned to go abroad to attend a training course in espionage.
He did not say how many people were detained nor which country would have trained and employed them.
The minister's remarks came at a time of heightened tension between Iran and the international community, led by the United States.
U.S. President George W. Bush has ordered American troops to act against Iranians suspected of being involved in the Iraqi insurgency and has deployed a second aircraft carrier to the Gulf area as a warning to Iran.
The U.N. Security Council has imposed sanctions because of Iran's refusal to cease uranium enrichment, and is due to consider strengthening later this month.
Earlier Thursday, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that if the United States were to attack Iran, it would respond by striking U.S. interests all over the world.