Reporting from Beirut — Iran's atomic energy chief has acknowledged that Western spies had infiltrated the country's nuclear program, but he said that Iranian officials had countered their efforts.
Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization, said officials have increased security to make it "almost impossible" for secrets to leak out, the pro-government Fars news agency said in a report late Friday.
"The issue of spies existed in the past, but is diminishing day by day," he said.
Salehi's admission was the most frank admission by an Iranian that Western clandestine services had been successful in attempts to penetrate the country's nuclear program, now under scrutiny by the West.
The United States suspects Tehran of pursuing nuclear weapons capability, a charge Iran denies. This summer, Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri, described by the United States as a defector, returned to the Islamic Republic in a murky case in which he reportedly had second thoughts.