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Report: Iran arrests 12 CIA agents

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 8:52 PM EST, Thu November 24, 2011
Iran says it has arrested 12 CIA
Iran says it has arrested 12 CIA "spies", for allegedly trying to cripple Iran's nuclear, military and security areas.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • An Iranian news agency says Iran has arrested 12 CIA agents
  • The report could not be independently confirmed
  • A U.S. official said this week that CIA informants had been captured in Lebanon

(CNN) -- An official Iranian news agency quoted an Iranian legislator Thursday as saying that Iran's intelligence ministry had arrested 12 CIA "spies."

The report could not independently confirmed.

Parliamentarian Parviz Sorouri said the alleged spies were trying to cripple Iran in the nuclear, military and security areas, Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Sorouri did not mention the nationalities of the people arrested or say when and where they were arrested, IRNA reported.

"It's possible that Iran sees this as an opportunity to just jump on the bandwagon after Hezbollah-related stories earlier this week," said a U.S. official who was not authorized to talk on the record. "They'll do anything to try and get international pressure and attention off of them, but it won't work."

The CIA declined to comment on the report.

The news comes after the reported capture this week of several CIA informants in Lebanon by Hezbollah, a group closely aligned with Iran that the United States views as a terrorist organization.

A U.S. official confirmed this week that Hezbollah had captured of CIA informants in Lebanon, but the official did not say how many were detained.

"Collecting sensitive information on adversaries -- who are aggressively trying to uncover spies in their midst -- will always be fraught with risk. Good CI (counterintelligence) can mitigate risks, but won't eliminate them all," the source said.

In May, the Iranian intelligence minister, Heidar Moslehi, said that more than 30 U.S. and Israeli spies had been discovered, the semi-official Fars news agency reported Thursday.

CNN's Mitra Mobasherat and Pam Benson contributed to this report

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