Iran claims it detained Mossad cell planning to kill nuclear scientists

Iran claimed on Tuesday that it had arrested Mossad agents who were planning to assassinate nuclear scientists in the country.

The announcement did not detail the alleged agents’ nationalities or how many people had been detained. There were no further details given on the alleged plot.

“The arrest of these Mossad operatives came after a complicated intelligence operation that lasted for eight months of monitoring them,” said Mehdi Shamsabadi, the prosecutor general of Sistan-Baluchistan province, according to Iran’s Mehr News.

Shamsabadi said the investigation was ongoing and that the individuals would be charged in the near future.

“The case is currently in the preliminary investigation stage and an indictment will be issued and sent to the court soon,” he said, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.

The report also said that three people had been arrested two months earlier on suspicion of leaking classified information related to Iran’s nuclear program. The report said the three — named as M.S., M.Z. and A-Gh — were linked to Israeli intelligence services.

Various centrifuge machines line a hall at the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility, on April 17, 2021. (Screenshot, Islamic Republic Iran Broadcasting-IRIB, via AP)

It said one of those arrested was a woman who held a government position in an Iranian province but had previously worked for an organization linked to the presidency. Another individual arrested had tried to access confidential information through “administrative and executive authorities.”

Iran often detains individuals it claims are linked to foreign intelligence services without providing public evidence.

Tensions between Israel and Iran have intensified in recent weeks, after the assassination of a top Iranian officer in Tehran last month that it blames on Israel and a number of other deaths of security and scientific personnel in Iran.

Earlier this month it was reported that Iran suspects Israel killed two Iranian scientists several weeks ago by poisoning their food, as tensions flare between Tehran and Jerusalem amid Iranian progress on its rogue nuclear program and a series of mysterious deaths in Iran.

In addition there have been airstrikes against Iran-linked targets in Syria, which Tehran has blamed on Israel, alongside threatening rhetoric from Iranian leaders and Iran’s increasing violations of nuclear agreements amid a crumbling agreement with world powers.

An Iranian technician works at the Uranium Conversion Facility just outside the city of Isfahan, Iran, on February 3, 2007. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

These tensions led Israel to urge its citizens in Turkey to leave immediately in recent days, over concerns that Iranian agents were planning to kill or kidnap Israelis there.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Monday that Israeli and Turkish security officials have worked together to foil terrorist attacks on Israelis in Turkey.

“The operational efforts alongside Turkish security forces have borne fruit,” Bennett said. “In recent days, in a joint Israeli-Turkish effort, we thwarted a number of attacks and a number of terrorists were arrested on Turkish soil.”

The prime minister did not include details on the number of attacks, how many individuals were arrested, or the nationality of the terrorists.

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