A prominent Iranian nuclear scientist has defected to the U.S.
aiding American hopes of curtailing Iran's nuclear ambitions, according
to ABC News. The scientist, Shahram Amiri, disappeared last year while
in Saudi Arabia. In response, Iranian officials accused the U.S. of
kidnapping Amiri, but U.S. officials now say he had agreed to American
offers to defect. What will his defection mean for the tense U.S.-Iran
relationship and for the Iranian nuclear program?
- U.S. Intel
Will Rely Heavily on Amiri The Washington Independent's Spencer Ackerman writes,
"Expect a new National Intelligence Estimate on the Iranian nuclear
program to rely significantly on Amiri."
- Why It Might Mean
Little High-ranking Clinton- and Bush-era counterterrorism official
Richard Clarke downplays
the impact of recruiting Amiri, whose knowledge probably only includes a
small part of the Iranian nuclear program. "The significance of the
coup will depend on how much the scientist knew in the compartmentalized
Iranian nuclear program ... Just taking one scientist out of the
program will not really disrupt it."
- Proves There Is No
Iranian Nuclear Program Middle East blogger Juan Cole notes, "US intelligence
continues to maintain that Iran has not committed to having a nuclear
weapons program. Presumably this information came from Amiri and is
fresh and solid, since he is a consummate insider ... Iran does not
have a nuclear weapons program at the moment. It can't move closer to
nukes if it doesn't have a weapons program!"
- The French
Connection? Foreign Policy's Blake Hounshell notes that
the U.K. Telegraph reported Amiri's defection back in December, but
credited French intelligence, not the CIA. Meanwhile, the new ABC News
story does not cite specific sources, but Hounshell has a good guess.
"FYI: It so happens that a French delegation is in town for President
Nicolas Sarkozy's visit," he notes. Could French intelligence be behind
the defection? Or are they just leaking the story to the press?
Most Successful Weapon Against Iran Surveying the recent spate of
defections and similar incidents, The Guardian's Julian Borger declares:
"It is clear that there is a concerted intelligence effort underway
aimed at the Iranian nuclear programme, and that it has been the most
successful element of western policy in recent years, as waves of
sanctions and military threats have failed to divert Tehran's
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