Iran on Monday said that it had caught 17 CIA spies operating in the country at sensitive facilities and that some of them had been sentenced to death.
A senior official at the Ministry of Intelligence told a press conference that the spies were found in “critical and crucial centers as well as the private sector” and that some were working as a “contractor or consultant,” Iranian media reported.
The spies were found at nuclear, military, and cyber-crimes centers, the official said.
In June, Iran said it had dismantled a CIA spy network operating in the country and that it would provide more details at a later date.
Iran and the United States broke diplomatic ties in 1980 in the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution. Relations have deteriorated sharply since US President Donald Trump took office in January 2017, and particularly since the United States last year withdrew from the 2015 nuclear treaty that Iran reached with major world powers.
Tensions have intensified since April when the US added Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to its blacklist of terrorist organizations and strengthened sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
The standoff has worsened in recent months, after the US military announced it was dispatching reinforcements to the Middle East in response to alleged “Iranian threats” as well as the sabotage of four ships at the entrance to the Gulf on May 12.
Washington and Riyadh have accused Tehran of being behind those attacks — as well as separate attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman — charges it has dismissed as “laughable.”
On Friday Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker and its crew in apparent retaliation for the detention earlier in the month of an Iranian tanker by Gibraltar, with the assistance of British marines, on suspicion that it was transporting crude oil to Syria in violation of UN sanctions on that country.