US spies will use eavesdropping tools and undercover informants to monitor global spread of coronavirus amid ‘serious concerns’ it will explode in India and doubts over how Iran will cope with outbreak, source reveals
- Sources warn India’s available countermeasures are serious cause for concern
- The country’s population density increases the potential for the virus to spread
- U.S. officials are also worried Iran has covered up the scale of the problem
U.S. spy agencies will use eavesdropping tools and undercover informants to monitor the global spread of coronavirus amid concerns about the ability of India and Iran to respond to outbreaks, intelligence officials have revealed
Sources familiar with the matter said there are worries about how either country would cope with a widespread outbreak.
While there are only a few known cases in India, one source said the country’s available countermeasures and the potential for the virus to spread given India’s dense population was a focus of serious concern.
U.S. intelligence agencies are also focusing on Iran, where the country’s deputy health minister has fallen ill during a worsening outbreak.
One source said U.S. agencies would use a wide range of intelligence tools, ranging from undercover informants to electronic eavesdropping tools, to track the virus’ impact around the world.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday the United States was ‘deeply concerned’ Tehran may have covered up details about the spread of coronavirus.
Officials wearing protective suits at a quarantine facility in New Delhi. A group of 76 Indians and 36 foreign nationals, including eight families with children, were evacuated from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak
Iraj Harirchi, left, wipes his face during a press briefing with government spokesman Ali Rabiei, in Tehran. The deputy health minister has tested positive for the virus himself
A U.S. government source said Iran’s response was considered ineffective because the government only has minimal capabilities to respond to the outbreak.
Another source said U.S. agencies were also concerned about the weak ability of governments in some developing countries to respond to an outbreak.
The U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee has received a briefing on the virus from the spy agencies.
‘The Committee has received a briefing from the IC (intelligence community) on coronavirus, and continues to receive updates on the outbreak on a daily basis,’ an official of the House Intelligence Committee told Reuters.
‘Addressing the threat has both national security and economic dimensions, requiring a concerted government-wide effort and the IC is playing an important role in monitoring the spread of the outbreak, and the worldwide response,’ the official added.
A source familiar with the activities of the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Republican Senator Richard Burr and Democratic Senator Mark Warner, said the panel was receiving daily updates.
A man on a phone walks past the Bombay Stock Exchange building in Munbai as fear around the virus continue to send shockwaves through global markets
Iran’s deputy health minister tested positive for coronavirus on Tuesday after looking shaky and unwell as he played down outbreak’s dangers.
Iraj Harirchi was taken into quarantine just a day later as the virus’s spread into the health ministry was taksign of Tehran’s faltering efforts to contain the outbreak.
The regime has refused to seal off the holy city of Qom at the centre of the crisis even as pilgrims spread the virus around the Middle East and Iranians face shortages of masks and testing kits.
The death toll in Iran stands at 26.
The role of U.S. intelligence agencies in responding to the coronavirus epidemic at this point principally involves monitoring the spread of the illness around the world and assessing the responses of governments.
They are working closely with health agencies, such as the U.S. Center for Disease Control, in sharing information they collect and targeting further intelligence gathering.