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Iranian negotiators involved in nuclear deal arrested for espionage

Iran has arrested 12 officials who were involved in negotiating last year’s nuclear deal on suspicion of espionage, according to Arab media reports.

Al-Arabiya quotes Iranian opposition MP Hussein Ali Haji Degana, who demanded that the Iranian judiciary carry out their investigation transparently and name the 12 suspects. He also said that some of those arrested are dual nationals.

The London-based Asharq Al-Awsat also quotes Degana, who said that the dual nationals are suspected of having “infiltrated into government and procured senior managerial and decision-making posts”. Iran does not recognise dual nationality and is currently holding those with citizenship elsewhere, including several UK citizens, on suspicion of espionage.

Under last year’s agreement between Iran and the P5+1 powers (US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany), Tehran has promised to curb its nuclear development for at least ten years in return for sanctions relief.

Earlier this month, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran had exceeded the permitted quantity of heavy water permitted under the deal for the second time since the accord was signed. However on Friday, Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi insisted that “Iran has fulfilled its obligations on heavy water stockpiles” by arranging the export the excess.

The infraction comes at a time of increased international focus on with the Iran nuclear deal, following the US election of strong opponent to the deal Donald Trump. Trump has described it as “the worst deal ever negotiated” and pledged in March that his “number one priority” would be to “dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran”.

Following Trump’s victory, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said that the agreement “was not concluded with one country or government but was approved by a resolution of the UN Security Council and there is no possibility that it can be changed by a single government”.


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