TEL AVIV – At least a dozen senior Iranian officials who were part of negotiations for the U.S.-led nuclear deal were arrested by the Islamic Republic on espionage charges, an Iranian lawmaker said.
According to Iranian MP Husein Al Haj Degana, some of those arrested had dual citizenship but he did not explain further. According to Al Arabiya, some of them had been arrested simply for holding dual citizenship.
Arab media has been covering the story since Al Haj’s comments last week, but Iran’s government-controlled media made no mention of the arrests.
Iranian authorities earlier this year arrested another member of the negotiating team, claiming the suspect was a “spy who had infiltrated the nuclear team.”
In August, Tehran arrested Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani, one of the nuclear deal negotiators, who held British citizenship and was reported to have links to British intelligence. Esfahani was a member of a team working on ameliorating economic sanctions under the nuclear deal. The charges were later dropped.
Earlier in August, Iran executed Shahram Amiri, an Iranian nuclear scientist who had been detained since 2010 when he returned home from the United States. Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported that a court had convicted him of spying for Washington.
Amiri, a researcher working for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, vanished during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in 2009, but resurfaced later in the United States. He returned to the Islamic Republic in 2010 and received a hero’s welcome before being arrested.
Iran accused the CIA of kidnapping Amiri, though U.S. officials, who said they had gathered “useful” intelligence from Amiri, said he was free to leave whenever he wished.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog group, reported on Wednesday that Iran has violated the terms of the nuclear deal again, exceeding a limit of 130 metric tons of heavy water. Iran exceeded the same limit last February.
Iran on Friday denied any breach of the nuclear deal.