Iran bombshell: Tehran threatens to execute several US ‘spies’ as tensions soar

Iranian prosecutors are currently seeking the death penalty for the “spies” as tensions rise with Washington over Tehran’s nuclear program. Iran said in August it had arrested “tens of spies” in state bodies, many of whom were dual nationals. In June, Iran said it executed a former contract employee of the defence ministry aerospace body on charges of spying for the US Central Intelligence Agency.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said an unspecified number of suspects, arrested less than a year ago, faced possible death sentences in military tribunals, state television reported.

Mr Esmaili added: “Two of the defendants, who were not military, have received long prison terms.”

One of them is Iranian national, Aras Amiri, who had been in charge of the Iran desk of the British Council, was jailed for 10 years on charges of spying, the BBC reported.

Iran’s threat comes after the country exceeded its uranium enrichment permitted under its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Tehran’s announcement marked its first major step beyond the terms of the pact since the US pulled out of it more than a year ago.

But Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the move was not a violation of the accord, arguing that Iran was exercising its right to respond to the US walkout.

The step could have far-reaching consequences for diplomacy at a time when European countries are trying to pull the US and Iran back from confrontation.

US President Donald Trump has since warned Iran is “playing with fire”.

Trump said: “No message to Iran. They know what they’re doing.

“They know what they’re playing with, and I think they’re playing with fire. So, no message to Iran whatsoever.”

The White House added it would continue to apply “maximum pressure” on Iran “until its leaders alter their course of action.”

It added Iran should be held to a standard barring all uranium enrichment.

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