The former chief-of-staff of Iran’s armed forces said Tuesday that Western spies had used lizards to “attract atomic waves” and spy on his country’s nuclear program.
It was the latest in a long line of incidents of Western countries, including Israel, being accused of deploying secret agents from the animal kingdom.
Hassan Firuzabadi, senior military adviser to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was responding to questions from local media on the recent arrest of environmentalists.
He said he did not know the details of the cases, but that the West had often used tourists, scientists and environmentalists to spy on Iran.
“Several years ago, some individuals came to Iran to collect aid for Palestine… We were suspicious of the route they chose,” he told the reformist ILNA news agency.
“In their possessions were a variety of reptile desert species like lizards, chameleons… We found out that their skin attracts atomic waves and that they were nuclear spies who wanted to find out where inside the Islamic Republic of Iran we have uranium mines and where we are engaged in atomic activities,” he said.
Firuzabadi said Western spy agencies had “failed every time.”
His comments came after news that a leading Iranian-Canadian environmentalist, Kavous Seyed Emami, had committed suicide in prison after he was arrested along with other members of his wildlife NGO last month.
Several spying allegations involving various creatures have been leveled against Israel over the past years.
In January 2016, Lebanese residents captured a griffon vulture wearing an Israeli tracking device, but released it upon realizing that the transmitter strapped to the bird was intended for scientific research rather than espionage.
Several months earlier, Hamas claimed to have caught a dolphin wearing Israeli spying equipment.
Twice in recent years, Turkish media has highlighted allegations that birds tagged with Israeli university tracking devices were on espionage missions.
In 2012, an eagle with an Israeli tag in Sudan was captured and alleged to be as a Mossad spy.
Two years earlier, an Egyptian official said Israel-controlled sharks may have been involved in a number of attacks on tourists in the Red Sea.