Tehran accuses US in case of missing Iranian nuclear scientist

Iran’s foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki charged Wednesday, Oct. 7 that Tehran had “documents that prove US interference” in the disappearance of the nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri during a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia earlier this year. He spoke after attending an Iranian cabinet meeting. Six days after meeting the six powers on its nuclear program in Geneva, Tehran appears to be preparing a new crisis.
State Department spokesman Ian Kelly denied having any information “on this individual.” Some Saudi sources claimed the scientist asked the kingdom for political asylum but this was denied by Riyadh.
debkafile‘s Iranian sources report that Shahram Amiri was a senior member of Tehran University’s nuclear physics department which is directly involved in work on Iran’s second enrichment facility near Qom. Iranian nuclear scientists are forbidden foreign travel except for pilgrimages to Mecca. Then too they travel with groups and watched over by Iranian security personnel. Their passports are held by the group’s head, usually a Revolutionary Guards officer, as a safety guard against defections.
Shahram Amiri went missing without his passport last May, three days after his party arrived in Mecca. His belongings were left in his hotel room. The Saudi authorities deny knowledge of the case.
Our sources add: The fuss the Iranians are making about the scientist’s disappearance indicates he was an important cog in the hidden compartments of Iran’s nuclear program and had plenty to give away to the wrong parties. They fear his disappearance is a repetition of the case of the missing general Alireza Asgari who dropped out of sight in Istanbul in March 2007. Asgari, who was a deputy minister in charge of Iran’s nuclear relations with Syria, also checked in at a hotel, unpacked in his room and vanished. Tehran has always suspected he headed straight for a flight to the United States and is in Washington to this day.
That Mottaki raised the case six months after Amid’s disappearance is a sign that Iran is building up to a crisis with the big powers, especially the United States. It will no doubt climax on or before Oct. 25 when international inspectors are due to visit the suspect nuclear site near Qom.

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