Alireza Akbari, a British-Iranian national who once served as Iran’s deputy defense minister and who was executed by Tehran earlier this year, was a mole for British intelligence, according to a report by the New York Times on Monday.
According to unnamed officials cited in the report, Akbari began sharing Iran’s nuclear secrets with British intelligence in 2004, including information about Iran’s Fordow enrichment plant.
The intelligence shared by Akbari led to the discovery of Fordow, according to the report.
“In April 2008, Britain received and shared with Israel and Western agencies the intelligence about Fordow, a uranium enrichment facility deep inside an underground military complex, that was part of Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear bomb. Fordow’s discovery changed the world’s understanding of Iran’s nuclear program and redrew the West’s military and cyber plans for countering it,” the report said.
Akbari was arrested in 2019 during a visit to Iran after Tehran discovered that he was the source of the Fordow leak, with Russia assisting in his discovery, according to the report.
“It is unclear how Russia, a close ally of Iran, discovered the information,” the report said.
Akbari, 61, was executed in January on charges of spying for Britain, a claim his family denies. The UK described the charges as “politically motivated” and imposed sanctions on Iran’s Prosecutor General in response to the execution.