Iran announced the arrest of 30 "spies" connected with an alleged Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) spy network that spanned several countries.
"Due to the massive intelligence and counter-intelligence work by Iranian intelligence agents, a complex espionage and sabotage network linked to America's spy organization was uncovered and dismantled," the ministry announced on state-run television Saturday.
"The Intelligence Ministry's active and pious forces, in their ardent confrontations with the agents of the C.I.A...arrested 30 people who were spies for America," state-run Press TV reported. According to the report, 42 others were taken into custody for involvement in the operation.
Ministry officials claimed the network was trying to recruit Iranians by enticing them with training, education and employment opportunities.
"The elites, educated and naïve people were recruited to get visas, residency permits, education abroad and employment," the Intelligence Ministry reportedly said.
Iranian officials said the spies delivered information to several U.S. embassies and consulates in countries that included Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia.
"They engage in collection of information regarding Iran's nuclear, aerospace defense and bio-technology fields," the Intelligence Ministry said, according to the semi-official Mehr news agency.
"Thanks to the sincere endeavor of your children by collecting intelligence through infiltrating in the network and by penetrating in the network through double agents, we managed to disband the network and arrest the 30 spies in and outside the country," the statement read.
Spying in Iran is punishable by execution.
U.S. officials did not immediately respond to the announcement.
Reuters and the L.A. Times contributed to this report.