The Iranian police have arrested the alleged leader and four other members of a spy network they suspect is affiliated to Israel’s secret services, Iranian law enforcement authorities have said.
They did not give the nationality of those arrested but said on Thursday that they had received training for armed operations and sabotage.
“The arrested five members of this spy network were given various pledges from [Israel’s] Mossad, including financial promises, to gather information from important areas across the country,” the law enforcement intelligence organisation said in a statement reported by the semi-official ILNA news agency.
In Israel, the Prime Minister’s Office, which oversees the foreign intelligence agency Mossad, declined to comment on the reported arrests.
Iran and Israel are longtime foes and are currently locked in a dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme.
Israel accuses Iran of backing militant attacks against it, while Iran says Israel has carried out a number of killings of Iranian officials, including that of a senior officer in May. Israel does not confirm nor deny such actions.
On Wednesday, Iran’s Minister of Intelligence Esmaeil Khatib said Tehran had foiled subversive actions from the “Zionist regime” – its term for Israel.
Iranian security forces have successfully carried out a number of operations against Israel over the last few months, he said without specifying what they consisted of.
Last week, Iran’s security forces said they had arrested a network of agents working for Israel who entered Iran from Iraq’s Kurdish region to carry out sabotage and what they called “terrorist operations”.
Nournews, an outlet affiliated with Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, had said the arrested agents were on their way to blow up an unspecified “sensitive centre” in Isfahan, which among other things houses the country’s main nuclear facilities.
The Natanz nuclear facilities in Isfahan were targeted by two major sabotage attacks in 2020 and 2021, which Iran condemned as “nuclear terrorism”.
The developments come amid intensified tensions with arch foe Israel, which has pledged to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon at any cost as indirect talks with the United States to restore the 2015 nuclear deal have stalled since March.
Observers have pointed out that as tensions between Iran and Israel continue to grow, further escalation might be a possibility.