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    In this photo released by an official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani listens to explanations on new nuclear achievements at a ceremony to mark National Nuclear Day, in Tehran, Iran, Monday, April 9, 2018

    Iranian Nuclear Programme Ended Up at the Heart of Spy Spat - Scholars

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    Sunday Express has reported that Israeli, British, and US intelligence services have exfiltrated an Iranian nuclear scientist, hiding him among refugees. The operation is reported to have been planned since October 2018 and conducted on the eve of the Iranian New Year due to concerns regarding the disclosure of the scientist’s identity.

    MI-6 ensured the man's trip through Europe; to get the scientist from France to Britain, they had to hide him among Iranian refugees who were illegally crossing the English Channel by boat. In the UK, the man spoke to MI-6 and CIA agents, and then they sent him to the United States.

    Sputnik has spoken to Iranian and Israeli experts to find out more about the situation.

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    According to Hassan Behestipour, an Iranian political analyst from English-language channel Press TV who has been closely following the events surrounding the nuclear programme, such news is nothing but raw information that sounds more like a detective story:

    "First of all, a spy cannot be a nuclear scientist. Secondly, there had already been similar cases before, when they caught Israeli agents. The news of exfiltrating this person from Iran is more like a flood or raw, unfiltered information in order to create conditions for manoeuver. They launch such news from time to time; and then they say that, based on the data this person has, one could speak of a leak of classified data from Iran.

    They have done this before. At the moment, Iran's nuclear programme is completely transparent and is under the control of the IAEA. It's suspicious that a person involved in the murder of a nuclear scientist has left Iran, as all those involved in the case have already been officially detained. Therefore, it is necessary to see what they'll come up with in the future on the basis of this news".

    Behestipour believes that there's no doubt that there are Israeli spies in Iran:

    "Earlier there were similar cases that have been covered in the Western press. However, these are more like spy stories that have nothing to do with reality".

    However, Simon Tsipis, an Israeli expert on international relations and security, Ph.D. in political science from the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv, believes that this case is far from being fictional for several reasons:

    "The Iranian scientist wasn't kidnapped but exfiltrated at his own request and due to the threat of disclosing the information that for many years he had cooperated with the special service Mossad and helped eliminate Iranian nuclear scientists. I don't rule out that this Iranian is not the only such scientist. Mossad has other human resources involved in the ILP".

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    According to the expert, this case is not unique. The removal of especially valuable and important agents from a hostile state is practiced not only by Mossad but also by other special services around the world.

    "And we should also remember that before the 1979 Islamic Revolution Iran and Israel were close allies. Their intelligence agencies, military, politicians, and diplomats had rather close ties with each other. Such strong connections can't just disappear overnight; and actually, they haven't. Therefore, in my opinion, Israel cooperates with certain people in certain circles in Iran; and this cooperation continues.

    This can be proved by the scandal that took place in the mid-80s, the so-called Iran-Contra affair or Irangate when Israel continued supplying and selling weapons to Iran from 1981to 1985.

    But Israel was doing so at the request of the United States. The US Congress announced an arms embargo on Iran. On orders from President Reagan, arms shipments to Iran continued through Israel, while the Americans tried to exchange for these hostages seized by Hezbollah in Lebanon, which Israel considers to be the mediator of the Iranian armed forces. Reagan asked Israel to use its old channels, and Israel continued supplying weapons.

    So the Islamic revolution didn't have much influence on current Israeli-Iranian relations, Tel Aviv was still supplying weapons to Tehran. And the proceeds were used to support the militants of the Contra movement in Nicaragua, fighting against the communists in the country".

    "This scandal shows the strong ties Israel has with Iran, despite the revolution that took place there".

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    "Besides, today, not all people in Iran support the ideas of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. In any state, be it a democracy or a dictatorship, there is always opposition. The only difference is that in a democratic regime the opposition is open, and in a dictatorial regime it is underground. I'm sure that Iran has such an opposition, whose members work in various structures: even in the Ministry of Defence, the army and the government. It is this opposition that Israel's Mossad can use for its own purposes. This is a very serious resource for Mossad's actions in Iran".

    The Israeli expert points out that certain experts from special services of some other friendly countries can also help Israel "penetrate" the Iranian nuclear program:

    "There is close cooperation between intelligence agencies such as Mossad, the Britain's MI-6, America's CIA and France's DGSE. Each of these intelligence communities has unique resources and complements each other in some way; there is cooperation among them, in particular, regarding Iran".

    According to Simon Tsipis, the seriousness and scale of Israel's involvement in the Iranian nuclear programme can also be assessed by a Mossad operation last year:

    "Mossad has unique abilities; there are both technical and human resources. This is demonstrated by the operation carried out at the beginning of last year, when Mossad specialists stole and removed the archive on the Iranian nuclear programme from a facility that is under the authority of the IRGC. This was important data on Iran's plans for developing a nuclear reactor, equipping missiles and bombs, warheads, etc. This suggests that Israel in Iran had and maintained very serious contacts and ties at various levels: from simple opposition to the military and politicians".

    Views and opinions, expressed in the article are those of the experts and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik

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    Iranian nuclear program, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Mossad, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran, Israel
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