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President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Monday to refute Iran’s claim that it has captured and punished a CIA “spy ring” in Iran.
“The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth,” Trump tweeted. “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!”
The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth. 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2019
Iran’s Intelligence Ministry claimed Monday that it had captured 17 CIA spies and sentenced some of them to death earlier this month.
“The identified spies were employed in sensitive and vital private sector centers in the economic, nuclear, infrastructure, military, and cyber areas… where they collected classified information,” an Iranian Intelligence Ministry statement said, Radio Free Europe reported.
Iran allegedly discovered and “dismantled” the CIA spy ring during the Iranian calendar year that ended in March, but is only now speaking publicly about it.
There are also allegedly photos of these “CIA officers,” Iran claims.
Tensions with Iran have been building to an all-time high.
Last week, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard seized a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz’s international waters, and later seized a second British tanker.
The Strait of Hormuz is a major international waterway that connects the Gulf of Oman, which opens up the Indian Sea, to the Persian Gulf, or Arabian Gulf, where Iran and Saudi Arabia have large stretches of coastline. The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait also share coastlines with the Persian Gulf, and Iraq has a small coastline, as well.
This is not the first time this summer that Iran is accused of harassing ships trying to traverse the Strait of Hormuz.
In June, two oil tankers were hit in the Gulf of Oman off the coast of Iran, one reportedly hit by a torpedo. The Norwegian-owned Front Altair was allegedly hit by a torpedo, news outlets reported, and it was on fire in the Gulf. The Kokuka Courageous tanker also suffered damages after the suspected attack.
Iran was immediately suspected of having coordinated the hits. The tankers were near the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s most strategic, heavily trafficked waterways, where one-fifth of the world’s oil supply passes through. The attacks also took place near the location where Iran was accused of sabotaging four tankers in May.
Tensions between Iran and Britain have also escalated this month. The British Royal Navy seized an Iranian oil tanker, and Iran has been calling for its release.
And just last week, it was reported that Iran had tried to seize a foreign tanker on July 14 with 12 crew members on board.
Earlier in July, several Iranian ships from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) tried to stop a British oil tanker and its accompanying frigate as they traversed international waters into the Strait of Hormuz.