Updated Jul 22, 2019

Trump denies Iran's claim that it captured 17 CIA spies

Photo: Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images

Iranian intelligence officials said on Monday that they had detained 17 people on suspicion of being spies for the CIA and that some have been sentenced to death, according to Iran's state media.

What's new: President Trump said that Iran's claim is "totally false" on Twitter. "Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do. Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!" he tweeted.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also denied the claim on Fox News Monday:

“The Iranian regime has a long history of lying ... I would take with a significant grain of salt any Iranian assertion about actions that they’ve taken."

Details: An Iranian official said Iran had identified and dismantled a "big spy network affiliated with CIA on June 18," IRNA reports. State TV in Iran broadcast images it claimed "showed the CIA officers who were in touch with the suspected spies," per Reuters.

  • The suspects — all Iranian citizens — were employed in "sensitive and vital" governmental and private sectors in the "economic, nuclear, infrastructural, military and cyber centers," where they're alleged to have collected classified information, according to the Tehran Times.

This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

Go deeper

Iran nuclear deal crisis talks held amid U.S.-Tehran tension

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi (2nd L) after talks in Vienna, Austria. Photo: Askin Kiyagan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Diplomats from Iran, Germany, France, Britain, China, Russia and the European Union recommitted Sunday to saving Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal after "constructive" talks in Vienna, a senior Iranian official said, according to AP.

Why it matters: The talks come at a time of heightened tension between the West and Iran, after the U.S. withdrew from the deal and hit Tehran with sanctions. Hours before the talks, the U.S. and Israel said they tested a missile defense system in Alaska. The goal is to intercept long-range missiles from Iran, Barak Ravid writes for Axios.

What they're saying: Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi told reporters after that while not every issue was resolved, those present were "determined to save this deal," per AP.

The big picture: The United Nations' nuclear watchdog confirmed this month that Iran has followed through on its threat to enrich uranium beyond the purity limit set under the 2015 nuclear deal.

What's next: There was a general agreement at Sunday's talks to organize a higher-level meeting of foreign ministers soon, though no date had been set, according to AP.

Go deeper:

Keep ReadingArrowJul 29, 2019

U.S. warns Greek government as Iran tanker sails toward Greece

The Adrian Darya oil tanker, formerly known as Grace 1, off the coast of Gibraltar on Sunday. Photo: Johnny Bugeja/AFP/Getty Images

A State Department official said Monday the U.S. conveyed its "strong position" to the Greek government and all ports in the Mediterranean about a Greece-bound Iranian supertanker it sought to seize, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: The Adrian Darya 1 tanker has been at the center of a standoff between Iran and the West since it was detained at Gibraltar on suspicion of carrying oil to Syria. The official said the tanker is assisting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp and any efforts to help it may be considered providing material support to the U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization, which has potential criminal consequences, per Reuters.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Aug 19, 2019

Iran’s defiance on display in recent missile tests

A Shahab-3 missile on dispay in Tehran on June 23, 2017. Photo: Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

As regional tensions ratchet up, Iran has continued flight-testing its missile arsenal, most recently in last week's launch of a Shahab-3 ballistic missile.

Why it matters: Iran’s missile tests have both symbolic and practical value, helping advance military capabilities while also signaling prowess to domestic audiences and defiance to foreign powers. The Shahab-3 raises particular concerns, as it meets the range and payload thresholds to qualify as a nuclear-capable system.

Go deeperArrowJul 29, 2019