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Iran insists nuclear scientist 'kidnapped' by US
by Staff Writers
Tehran (AFP) April 6, 2010

US Senate panel to hold Iran nuclear hearing
Washington (AFP) April 6, 2010 - The US Senate Armed Services Committee will question top US military and diplomatic officials at an April 14 hearing on policy towards Iran and its suspect nuclear program, the panel said Tuesday. US Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy; Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns; General James Cartwright, the vice chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff; and the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant Ronald Burgess, will testify. Andrew Gibb, national intelligence officer for weapons of mass destruction, will join the witnesses in a session closed to the public, the committee said in a statement. The hearing comes amid growing frustration in the US Congress with diplomatic efforts to convince Iran to freeze sensitive nuclear work that can be a key step on the road to developing atomic weapons. Tehran denies that it seeks a nuclear arsenal and has refused to freeze its uranium enrichment activities.

Iran insisted on Tuesday that nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri had been "kidnapped" by US agents, effectively dismissing reports he had defected to the United States.

ABC news in the United States reported last week that Amiri, an Iranian nuclear physicist in his early 30s who disappeared in June 2009 after arriving in Saudi Arabia on a pilgrimage, had defected and was working with the CIA.

"The US links with Mr Amiri only confirms our statement that they had a role in his abduction," foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters in reaction to the ABC report.

"Our services said he was abducted with US intelligence cooperation in Saudi Arabia, where he was on pilgrimage," he added.

The ABC report said that US intelligence agents described the defection as "an intelligence coup" in US efforts to undermine Iran's controversial nuclear programme.

Amiri's disappearance "was part of a long-planned CIA operation to get him to defect," ABC reported, citing unnamed people briefed on the operation by US intelligence officials.

Mehmanparast said the ABC report was also "ambiguous" in its attributions to Amiri and his work and this was "not acceptable" to Tehran.

The United States has led international efforts to thwart Iran's controversial nuclear work, which it suspects is aimed at developing atomic weapons.

Tehran insists its nuclear programme is peaceful and designed to meet domestic energy needs.


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Can the CIA sabotage Iran's nuclear project?
Washington (AFP) April 4, 2010
The reported defection of an Iranian scientist to the United States has renewed speculation about a CIA plot to sabotage Iran's nuclear program through covert action. But it remains unclear whether Shahram Amiri, the young physics researcher who reportedly joined forces with the US spy agency, represents an intelligence coup for Washington or a minor setback for Tehran, former CIA officers s ... read more

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