TEHRAN, 31 Aug (IPS) Iran revealed on Tuesday that it has arrested several people charged with spying on Iranian nuclear activities.
"The Information Ministry has arrested several spies who were carrying Iran’s nuclear information (out of the country)", Iranian Information (Intelligence) Minister Hojjatoleslam Ali Younessi told reporters during a news conference.
The Minister did not identify those arrested nor said when the arrests took place, but stated that members of the “terrorist” Mojahedin Khalq Organisation (MKO) have passed the bulk of secrets about Iran’s nuclear program to foreign countries, according to the official news agency IRNA.
Based in Baghdad, the MKO fought Iran’s armies during the eight years war between Iran and Iraq and afterward.
Based in Baghdad and serving as a special branch of the Iraqi intelligence network under the now toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the MKO fought Iran’s armies during the eight years war between Iran and Iraq and afterward.
But the group that had a large office in Washington and was a darling of many American lawmakers was disarmed after the Americans attacked Iraq and toppled the former Ba’thist regime more than a year ago.
The National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), the political wing of the outlawed group led by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the wife of Mas’oud Rajavi, the group’s chief commander exploded a news bombshell about two years ago by revealing nuclear sites Iran had constructed secretly, including for enriching uranium.
But after American intelligence agencies confirmed the information by making public satellite pictures of the sites, including one in the central city of Natanz, experts doubted, wondering it was not the Pentagon that gave the information to the MKO in order to boast its status with the Administration.
The clerical regime's objective is to terrorise and intimidate the personnel of nuclear facilities
"The hypocrites (MKO) had the lead role and they have boasted before about spying against Iran in a press conference in America," he added. "We have identified and arrested dozens of spies on various grounds".
However, the organisation denied that any of its members had been arrested; the British news agency Reuters quoted former NCRI spokesman, Alireza Jafarzadeh, who broke the news about the nuclear sites.
While the United States and most European countries have listed the MKO as a terrorist group, it continues its anti-Iranian activities using the NCRI that has its international headquarters in Auvers Sur Oise, near Paris.
The NCRI's spokesman Shahin Gobadi said in an emailed statement: "The individuals who have been arrested have had nothing to do with the disclosures made by the Iranian Resistance on the mullahs' secret nuclear weapons program.
"The clerical regime's objective is to terrorise and intimidate the personnel of nuclear facilities and prevent them from cooperating with the resistance. These arrests are part of a new wave of crackdowns in Iran in recent weeks".
The United States, Israel and some European countries suspects the Islamic Republic of Iran of producing nuclear weapons thanks to projects it has underway for the construction of an atom-powered electricity plant with assistance from Russia.
But Tehran insists that all its nuclear projects are for civilian purposes and has no plan to make atomic bomb.
The Board of Governors of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is to meet on 13 September 2004 to review the latest report of the Agency’s Director on Iranian nuclear activities.
Although Washington is pressing the IAEA to take a stronger attitude towards Iran and pushes for the case to be sent to the United Nations Security Council for sanctions against Tehran, but many experts expresses doubt that the Governors would go that far, cutting all bridges with Iran.
In their meeting on the Black Sea resort of Sochi, leaders of Russia, France and Germany discussed Iranian nuclear activities, with President Vladimir Putin stating his "strong" opposition to the increase of the present number of the nuclear club members, an opposition that includes the Islamic Republic of Iran.
However, he added that Russia's controversial cooperation with Tehran for the construction of atomic-powered electrical projects would continue and even expanded in the future.
But Jacques Chirac of France and Gerhard Schroeder of Germany expressed concern over Iran's respect of agreements it concluded with Europe's "Big 3", refering to the accord signed on last October between Iran in the one side, Paris, Berlin and London on the other over suspending enriching uranium and signing the Additional Protocols to the Non Proliferation Treaty.
"To prevent the Islamic Republic from producing atomic bomb, there is a close cooperation between the European Union and Russia", the German Chancellor is reported to have said at the meeting. ENDS IRAN NUCLEAR SPYING 31804