Iranian scientist defects: US covert ops hurt Iran nuclear program
The defection of Iranian scientist Shahram Amiri to the US shows that a long-running CIA covert program against the Iran nuclear program is working.
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Amiri was a researcher at Malek Ashtar University of Defense Technology, which was listed for sanctions by the European Union in mid-2008. According to the European Union Council regulation, it was “linked” to Iran’s Ministry of Defense and “set up a missiles training course in 2003.”Skip to next paragraph
The rector of the university, a lieutenant general, was named in the UN Security Council’s first round of sanctions on Iran in 2006 as one of seven “persons involved in the nuclear program.”
Iranian news reports refer to Amiri as an “academic.” Last October Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Iran had documents proving that the US had abducted Amiri and also played a role in the March 2007 disappearance in Istanbul of retired Deputy Defense Minister Alireza Asgari, who also reportedly defected and has helped Western and Israeli intelligence agencies.
Last December, however, the head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi, told the Fars News Agency — which has close links to the Revolutionary Guard — that Amiri had “no links” with the AEOI and was never employed by it.
Still, three months after Amiri disappeared during a June 2009 pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, Iran quietly informed the UN’s nuclear watchdog that it was building a small uranium enrichment plant near Qom, south of Tehran – apparently after learning that US intelligence had become aware of the facility, and to preempt by a day President Obama’s announcement of its existence.
Some reports have suggested Amiri worked at the nascent Qom facility.
Inspectors from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported the underground site to be in an “advanced” stage of construction, and the IAEA found Iran in breach of safeguard rules for not declaring the site. Iran claims it did not need to inform the IAEA until six months before nuclear material was to be introduced.