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Iran Executes Nuclear Scientist

Iranian authorities have confirmed the execution of nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri, who was accused of treason and divulging sensitive information about the country’s nuclear program to U.S. intelligence agencies.

Amiri disappeared during a haj in 2009, resurfacing later in the US. Initially he said he was kidnapped and forced into talking about Iran’s nuclear program, which Tehran has always insisted has only one goal: power generation. Later, Amiri offered up a contradictory statement, saying he was comfortable in the US.

U.S. government officials in 2010 told the Wall Street Journal that Amiri was offered US$5 million in exchange for information about the nuclear program that led to the imposition of severe economic sanctions on Iran that were only removed early this year.

Amiri was warned by U.S. officials that should he return to Iran, he might be executed, but nevertheless, he did return in July 2010, after Tehran complained to Washington that the scientist was being held there against his will. Although he was welcomed as a hero, he was later taken in for questioning and eventually convicted of treason.

It’s worth noting that on his return to Iran, Amiri claimed he was a low-ranking researcher in Iran’s nuclear program, and had no access to confidential information. U.S. government officials, however, countered his words, saying that he did provide them with such information.

Iran agreed to curb its nuclear power activities late last year in exchange for the lifting of sanctions that had seen its economy crumble. The curbing includes suspension of all work on heavy water-related projects and limitation of uranium enrichment, according to the World Nuclear Association. At the moment, there is one nuclear reactor functioning in the country, and there are plans to build two more. Iran’s nuclear program dates back to the late 1950s, but was abandoned for a long time after the Islamic Revolution from the late ‘70s. Work on uranium enrichment was secret for a long time and when it came to light, it sparked international worry that Tehran was aiming to become the next nuclear power in the Middle East, which led to the sanctions.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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