Iran says Saudis handed missing scientist to U.S.

Tue Dec 8, 2009 8:47am EST
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TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran accused Saudi Arabia on Tuesday of handing over to the United States an Iranian nuclear scientist missing since June, the semi-official Mehr news agency said.

Shahram Amiri, a university researcher working for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, disappeared during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in June. Some media reports said he wanted to seek asylum abroad.

"Riyadh has handed over Iran's nuclear scientist Amiri to America," Mehr quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast as saying.

Tehran originally refused to acknowledge Amiri's involvement in Iran's disputed nuclear program, which the United States suspects is being used to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says it is aimed at generating electricity.

Mehmanparast said Amiri was being detained in the United States.

"He is among 11 jailed Iranians in America," he said, without elaborating.

Iran has said the United States was involved in Amiri's disappearance, which Washington has denied.

Amiri disappeared more than three months before Iran disclosed the existence of its second uranium enrichment site, near the central holy Shi'ite city of Qom.

The underground plant was kept secret until September.   Continued...