TEHRAN, Iran — Iran revealed Saturday that some personnel at the country's nuclear facilities were lured by promises of better pay to pass secrets to the West, but that increased security and worker privileges have put a stop to the spying.
The stunning acknowledgment by Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi provides the clearest government confirmation that Iran has been fighting espionage at its nuclear facilities.
The United States and its allies have vigorously sought to slow Iran's nuclear advances through U.N. and other sanctions out of suspicion that Tehran intends to use a civil program as cover for developing weapons. Iran denies any such aim and says it only wants to generate nuclear power.
Iran's semiofficial Fars news agency quoted Salehi as saying that some nuclear personnel had access to information about Iran's plans for “foreign purchases and commercial affairs.” The report did not elaborate on the precise nature of the information or the timeframe over which the spying took place.
“Now, these routes have been blocked. The possibility of information leaking is almost impossible now,” Salehi was quoted as saying.
“Our colleagues were awakened. ... The personnel and managers have all reached the conclusion that this is a national issue and that we should ... resolve our problems among ourselves.”
Salehi said access to information has been restricted within nuclear facilities as part of the increased security measures.
“In the past, personnel had easy access to information but it is not the case anymore now,” Fars quoted him as saying.
Salehi said the security department at the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran has also published booklets for its personnel alerting them to the various techniques the West uses to try to lure them into espionage.
The booklets “spell out precautionary measures to protect (information) and the life of scientists,” he was quoted as saying.
“The issue of spies existed in the past but now we see that it is fading day by day.”