US steps up intelligence, sabotage missions in Iran

Iranian officials are scheduled to meet with the so-called P5+1 group — the five permanent United Nations Security Council countries plus Germany — on Friday in Istanbul, Turkey, to discuss the country's nuclear program. 

But the U.S. intelligence community has not been wasting any time in trying to weaken Tehran's position long before they return to the negotiating table. 

Officials from the National Security Agency have increased efforts to intercept email and electronic communications coming from Tehran, according to reports in Monday's Washington Post.

The CIA and other agencies have also ramped up sabotage missions in the country, geared toward disrupting Iran's ongoing nuclear work.  

To do that, the agency has leaned upon its partnerships with allied intelligence services in the region to recruit operatives for intelligence and sabotage missions inside Iran, the Post reports. 

U.S. intelligence officials have pressed ahead with these operations, despite an incident in which Iranian forces captured a highly-classified American intelligence drone last December. 

The loss of the RQ-170 Sentinel was a setback for U.S. intel operations in and above Iran and a supposed intelligence boon for Tehran and its allies. 

Reports claim that Russia and China requested to examine the so-called "Beast of Kandahar" drone in an attempt to reverse-engineer a number of its capabilities. 

However, losing the Sentinel was not enough to throw American intel missions in the country offtrack.

The drone was only one part of the larger surveillance operation led by the NSA and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, according to the Post

Those operations will more than likely continue during Friday's nuclear summit in Turkey. 

On Monday, Tehran floated a proposal saying it would stop work on enriching 20 percent uranium — which is viewed as the step below weapons-grade uranium — once Iran had enough stockpiled for its medical research.

But under the terms of the deal, Iran would still be allowed to enrich low-grade uranium to support ongoing energy development plans.