Iranian Scientist Who Vanished "Gave Nuclear Secrets" to UN Inspectors Sent to Qom Site

(Sunday Telegraph-UK) Philip Sherwell and Peter Allen - An Iranian scientist who vanished six months ago has revealed secrets of his country's nuclear program to international weapons inspectors, the Sunday Telegraph has learned. Shahram Amiri briefed UN nuclear monitors in a clandestine meeting at Frankfurt airport just hours before they flew to Iran to inspect a hidden uranium enrichment plant, according to French intelligence sources. An award-winning atomic physicist, Amiri had worked at the heavily-guarded underground site at Qom. He disappeared after arriving in Saudi Arabia for a pilgrimage in May and defected in an elaborate international cloak-and-dagger operation coordinated by the CIA. Heads have rolled at Iran's nuclear counter-espionage agency since his loss, and the foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, raised his case in a private meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Iran has now linked the fate of three American hikers detained in Iran since July with a list of Iranian citizens, including Amiri, who Tehran alleges are being held by the U.S. The CIA launched a secret program, dubbed "the Brain Drain," in 2005 designed to undermine Iran's nuclear program by persuading key officials to defect. In the biggest previous coup, Revolutionary Guards general Ali Reza Asgari, the deputy defense minister, vanished on a trip to Turkey in 2007.

2009-12-14 08:57:02

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