The plan to bring an Iranian scientist with knowledge of Tehran’s nuclear programme to the UK was reportedly hammered out in October 2018, five months after US President Trump announced that Washington was leaving the Iran nuclear deal, reinstating economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
In late December, MI6, the CIA and Mossad conducted a joint operation to smuggle a defecting Iranian nuclear scientist to the UK across the English Channel using the migrant crisis as cover, the Sunday Express reported on Monday, citing informed sources as saying.
The scientist reportedly possessed information about Iran’s nuclear programme and was involved in the assassination of Tehran’s top nuclear expert, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, in 2012
First, the 47-year-old scientist, whose name has not been revealed, had to cover about 3,000 miles (4,828 kilometres) by land to the French coast near Calais after the Israeli secret service reportedly smuggled him out of his homeland.
“Once in France, the question of how to get him into Britain remained. We couldn’t simply fly him in. Though unusual, it was determined infiltrating him into a group of fellow migrants preparing to cross the Channel by [inflatable] boat offered one solution,” one of the sources said.
The source added that all this “wasn’t without its challenges” given that the scientist’s absence was quickly detected and security agents “were informed that a special unit of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps had been dispatched”.
After he arrived in Lydd, Kent, with 12 other migrants on New Year’s Eve, the nuclear technician was interviewed by MI6 before he was flown to the US.
The plan was hammered out in October 2018 after US President Donald Trump announced in early May Washington’s withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Trump also pledged to reinstate all anti-Iranian sanctions which were scrapped after the signing of the JCPOA.
The EU’s JCPOA signatories, including the UK, opted to keep the Iran deal in place and develop tools that would allow Tehran to trade with them, bypassing Washington’s sanctions.