Tehran, YJC. -- Iranian Intelligence Minister Seyed Mahmoud Alawi announced on Tuesday that the country's security forces have arrested several spies in the Southern province of Bushehr which hosts the nation's first nuclear power plant.
"Thanks to the vigilance of the Intelligence Ministry forces who monitor the moves of the foreign intelligence services, some agents who intended to carry out surveillance and intelligence gathering for the foreigners in Bushehr province have been identified and sent to justice," Alawi said, addressing a number of local officials in Bushehr city today.
The minister further reminded the decisive role of the Bushehr province for the country, and stressed, "This province as the economic, industrial, military, trade and nuclear hub of the country has a special position at the national level."
Last month, Deputy Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Asqar Zarean disclosed that the country has disrupted plots by foreign spies to recruit its nuclear experts and stopped sabotage attempts through faulty foreign equipment supplied for its facilities.
"We aim to raise awareness about the enemy, who is more hostile to us every day," Zarean, who is also in charge of security for Iran's nuclear program, said.
He did not name countries that authorities believe are behind the sabotage and the recruitment effort.
Zarean said foreign intelligence agencies targeted the experts when they traveled abroad and that the experts informed their superiors about the contact when they returned home. He did not elaborate on number of the attempts and destinations where the contacts occurred.
Zarean also showed parts and equipment, including modems and pumps, which he said had been deliberately tampered with to sabotage Iran's nuclear program. He described the items on display, which he said had been manufactured in western and Asian countries, as only a small sample of western sabotage.
Despite the (nuclear) negotiations (between Tehran and the six major world powers), Zarean said Iran's (civilian nuclear) program remains a target for foreign spies, pointing at Iran's Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) shooting down a Israeli spy drone in August near the uranium enrichment facility in Natanz, some 240 kilometers (150 miles) South of the capital, Tehran.
"With the dominance, resistance and vigilance that our defense system has shown, any flying object aiming to approach our nuclear sites will be targeted," Zarean said. "We are not joking with anyone. From now on they will see that (our response) to such jokes will be serious."
Late in August, the IRGC announced in a statement that it had shot down an Israeli drone near the highly sensitive nuclear enrichment facility in Natanz in Central Iran.
The IRGC Public Relations Department said in the statement that the Israeli pilotless aircraft was a radar-evading, stealth drone with the mission to spy on Iran's Natanz nuclear enrichment plant.
The IRGC also pointed out in its statement that the Israeli hostile aircraft had been targeted by a surface-to-air missile.
The IRGC then warned that it "reserves the right of response and retaliation for itself".
In August, Head of the AEOI Ali Akbar Salehi said not only the western, but also some developing states have been trying to sabotage Iran's nuclear installations through selling malfunctioning parts to the country.
"Unfortunately, different European and western countries and famous world industries with special positions (in this industry) have collaborated with the Zionist regime and the US efforts to sabotage Iran's nuclear industry, and if one day we reveal the names of these industries and companies to the world, all people will understand the importance of this issue," Salehi told reporters at the time.