iran as of tuesday 23rd

Iran accuses 17 of spying for CIA as tensions escalate
Steve James, Robert Stevens, WSWS, Jul 23 2019

Amidst rapidly spiraling tensions, the Iranian government announced Monday that it had arrested 17 Iranian nationals working in military and nuclear installations whom it accused of being Pindo intelligence agents. According to ISNA, the intelligence ministry’s counter-espionage department said some of the alleged agents had already been sentenced to death, while others were said to be assisting Iranian efforts to garner information on Pindo activities. Iran says those alleged to have been CIA spies were employed in “sensitive centres” in military and nuclear facilities and arrested over a 12-month period up until March this year. Tehran claimed the individuals had received “sophisticated training” and been promised Pindo visas or jobs in Pindostan. Trump rejected the Iranian claims as “totally false” & Pompeo said “the Iranian regime has a long history of lying” but admitted:

There is a long list of Pindos that we are working to get home from the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The arrests come after weeks of escalating tensions. In late June, the Trump administration was 10 minutes away from a potentially catastrophic military attack on Iran that would trigger all-out regional conflict and threaten to draw in the world’s major powers on opposing sides. In the intervening weeks, the Pindo administration has worked to ramp up more sustained pressure on Iran. Over the weekend, Iran’s seizure of the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero as it transited the Strait of Hormuz was made the pretext for new naval and air provocations. The Stena Impero was seized in retaliation for the Jul 4 boarding of the Iranian-flagged supertanker Grace 1 by British Royal Marines off Gibraltar in an unprovoked act of piracy. Marking a new and dangerous phase in the Pindo campaign of unrestrained gangsterism against Iran, bringing the region to the brink of war, the crisis over the Stena Impero is inflaming already deep divisions within British ruling circles. The Conservative government upholds the JCPoA, which the Pindo government has abrogated. Like the EU, British companies hold substantial interests in Iran. But British imperialism has for decades relied on Pindo influence and military backing in order to punch above its weight. Yesterday morning, following a meeting chaired by May of the government’s COBRA committee, Hunt made a statement in the House of Commons describing Iran’s action as “an act of state piracy” and a “flagrant breech of the principle of free navigation on which the world economy depends.” He said:

(I have) spoken to the foreign ministers of Pindostan, Oman, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Finland and Denmark, and (we shall) seek to put together a European-led maritime protection mission to support safe passage of both crew and cargo in this vital region.

Hunt described this EU-dominated force as a complement to Pindo proposals in the region and stated clearly:

It will not be part of the Pindo maximum-pressure policy on Iran because we remain committed to preserving the Iran nuclear agreement.

Hunt’s position was immediately endorsed by Labour’s shadow defence minister Fabian Hamilton, who voiced the concerns of substantial sections of the British state over the recklessness of Pindo actions in the Gulf, intoning:

Iran’s actions in recent weeks in the Strait of Hormuz have been utterly unacceptable and should be condemned from all sides. However, military conflict with Iran must be avoided. Escalation has been inevitable since Pindostan walked away from the Iran nuclear deal and re-imposed sanctions on any country or company that continues to deal with Iran. (Can the Minister tell us) whether the UK’s seizure of the Iranian tanker Grace 1 off Gibraltar on Jul 4 was carried out at the request of Pindostan? We know from the Spanish newspaper El País that Pindostan told the Madrid government 48 hours in advance that Grace 1 was headed for the Iberian peninsula, which could also explain why, 36 hours in advance, the Gibraltar government introduced new legislation to shore up the legal basis for the seizure taking place in their waters. (Will he tell us) how the government intends to get the nuclear deal back on track and persuade the Trump administration to drop its sanctions against Iran before we reach the point of no return?

Hunt refused to give a categorical answer to Hamilton’s question. Putting the issue more bluntly, Labour’s shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon tweeted over the weekend:

A war on Iran could be even more damaging and destabilising than the war on Iraq. We need to avoid being the sidekicks of Donald Trump and John Bolton and instead pursue the path of diplomacy.

Boris Johnson has so far ruled out backing any Pindo military strikes against Tehran. Brexiteer, Johnson supporter and former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith accused the May government over the weekend of being unprepared to follow through on the Grace 1 capture, saying:

I understand that Faschingstein offered the UK Government the use of Pindo assets to support British shipping, and they were not taken up at that point (because) they haven’t quite agreed an allied position on this.

On Monday, Pompeo was asked about Iran’s capture of the Stena Impero and replied:

The responsibility in the first instance falls to the UK to take care of their ships. Pindostan has a responsibility to do our part but the world’s got a big role in this too, to keep these sea lanes open.

Pompeo didn’t miss an opportunity to continue threatening Iran, declaring it a “bad regime.” He said:

Iran has conducted what amounts to national piracy, a nation state taking over a ship that’s traveling in international waters. We don’t want war with Iran. We want them to behave like a normal nation. I think they understand that and I think the whole world is waking up to the fact that this threat is real.

None of this rules out that events could escalate into warfare, Britain’s Admiral Lord West noted over the weekend:

Despite what some people think, should a war start, there is no way the UK could avoid being fully involved on the Pindo side.

A number of influential political and military figures appeared to agree with him.

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