Jerusalem – Pigeons have served human beings for a variety of purposes; now it seems that, even in the era of satellites and supercomputers, there are some people who use them for spying.

At least that is what officials in Tehran claim.

Iranian security forces captured two pigeons that it suspected of spying near the uranium enrichment installation in Nantaz and another plant. This was reported on Monday in one Iranian newspaper and by other media. The nuclear facility in Nantaz is used by the Iranians to enrich uranium, using centrifuges that are allegedly hidden in underground bunkers.

According to the report, one of the pigeons was captured near a water installation in the city Kashan, which is in Iran’s Isfahan province.

The report said that the pigeon was found to be wearing a metal ring and it had invisible wires attached to its feet. The Iranians believed those strings were used to transmit information.

Iranian officials reported that there could be no doubt that the two pigeons that were captured had been sent to carry out espionage activities around the sensitive installations. The Iranian media did not divulge more information about the pigeons or the fate that ultimately befell them.

This is not the first time that the Iranians have accused animals of spying for the West. Last year, they claimed to have captured 14 squirrels that were equipped with espionage equipment.

“The squirrels were equipped with espionage means that belong to Western espionage agencies, and we succeeded in stopping them before they had a chance to act,” is how Iranian officials were quoted at the time as having said.

Uri Alon, one of Israel’s champion racing pigeon trainers, said he doubted the veracity of the Iranian allegations about spy pigeons.

“A pigeon will return only to the dovecote it was born in, so that in order to send a spy pigeon you need to put it physically in a place you want information about,” Mr. Alon said.

He said that while it was true that pigeons were capable of flying up to 2,500 miles, that would take them a number of days, and the route they would take to get home could not be controlled.

David Bedein can be reached at His Web site is

©The Bulletin 2008


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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.