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Abduction or Defection: The Case of Iran's Nuclear Scientist

By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

01 April, 2010

In June 2009, Shahram Amiri, one of Iran's nuclear scientists disappeared in Saudi Arabia while on a Muslim pilgrimage. Soon thereafter Iran pointed the finger at the U.S. and accused it of kidnapping one of Iran's finest. Washington denied any knowledge of Amiri.

Until now.

Today, in an ABC exclusive, contrary to previous statements, the U.S. admitted that Amiri had "defected to the CIA" in what it termed as an "intelligence coup". Undoubtedly, the CIA has been involved in innumerable atrocious coups, tortures, assassinations, and kidnaps, but defects? The very outfit that has been assigned to assassinate American citizens thought to be cooperating with the enemy has been charged with soliciting 'enemy' defectors!

Given that Washington denied all knowledge of Amiri for months after his disappearance, the State Department ought to facilitate a meeting between him and the Iranian authorities to reassure all concerned parties that Amiri has indeed defected of his own free will. This was a practice that the Americans obliged even at the height of the Cold War. When a Soviet nuclear physicist by the name of Artem Vladimirovich Kulikov defected in 1985, he met with officials of the Soviet embassy at the State Department to reassure the Russians that he was not being held against his will. Failure to do this will give credibility to the alternative.

This would be more plausible given that in2009 Ynet news reported that with cooperation from the United States Israel has focused on eliminating key human assets involved in Iran's nuclear program. A few months later an Iranian physicist was killed in a bomb blast in Tehran. The eerie incidents bring back memories of the Iranian diplomat kidnapped and tortured by the CIA while serving in Iraq in 2007 - and denied.

Providing the Iranian authorities and more importantly, the American people and the international community evidence of Shahram Amiri's well-being and personal choice in 'defecting' to the CIA will, at a minimum, allow war promoters to take delight in parading around a live, complacent body who has "helped to confirm U.S. intelligence assessments about the Iranian nuclear program." Perhaps the thinking is that an imaginary "defector" can sing to the their tune and instill more fear in Americans against an imaginary enemy.

Soon, the enemy will be unveiled: the truth, or the truth denied us.

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich is an independent researcher and writer with a focus on U.S. foreign policy towards Iran and Iran’s nuclear program, and the role of lobby groups in influencing US foreign policy. She is a peace activist, essayist and public speaker.




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