Iran blames US, Saudis over defection of Iranian nuclear scientist
October 9, 2009 1 Comment
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Iran’s foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, has accused American and Saudi Arabian intelligence agencies of complicity in the recent disappearance of an Iranian nuclear scientist. Mottaki’s comments followed revelations in London-based Arabic-language daily, Al-Sharq al-Awsat, that the scientist, Shahram Amiri, defected to the West earlier this year. The paper said the researcher, who worked for the Islamic Republic’s nuclear energy program, defected during a hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It also claimed that another Iranian nuclear scientist, whose identity has not yet emerged, has disappeared, and may have defected, during a recent visit to the Republic of Georgia. The rumored disappearances may be part of Israel’s ongoing secret war on Iran’s nuclear program, which British newspaper The Daily Telegraph described last February as a covert “decapitation program” by Israeli intelligence, targeting Iran’s nuclear scientists. The alleged program, which includes assassinations and bribing of Iranian scientists, appears to have been sanctioned by Washington. According to The New York Times, an extensive CIA operation, which complements the Israeli covert effort, was approved by President George W. Bush in early 2008 and “hand[ed] off to President […] Barack Obama”. Interestingly, Shahram Amiri’s rumored defection appears to have happened four months before Western intelligence sources announced the existence of a previously undeclared Iranian nuclear facility near the city of Qum. This has prompted some observers to link Amiri’s disappearance with the revelation of the Qom nuclear facility.