Video: Iranian scientist defects to U.S.

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    >>> the u.s. government confirms an iranian nuclear scientist missing since last summer has defected to the united states . shahram amiri is sharing important secrets about iran's nuclear program with the cia. yesterday during a press dmpbs with nicolas sarkozy , president obama took aim at iran .

    >> the door remains open, if the iranians choose to walk through it. understand clearly what the terms of a diplomatic solution would be. in the interim we're going to move forcefully on an u.n. sanctions regime.

    >> nbc 's pentagon correspondent jim miklaszewski joins us. jim, how big a breakthrough does this seem to have been? have we seen any changes in u.s. policy as a result of information they are getting?

    >> david , this is real cloak and dagger stuff, a huge coup for the u.s. intelligence community . when this physicist left to go on a pilgrimage to saudi arabia . instead he turned up missing. iran accused the united states of kidnapping him. u.s. officials confirmed to nbc that amiri actually defected to the u.s. and shared some very critical information on the iranian ongoing secret nuclear weapons program that the u.s. has been able to use particularly in its attempt to get the united nations to pass and enact some very stringent sanctions, punishing sanctions against the iranian regime . they haven't had much luck in that. but yesterday, secretary of state hillary clinton and president obama both expressed some optimism that they may be able to, within weeks, actually pass some additional sanctions against iran to try to get them to back off their nuclear weapons program . so far the sanctions that have been imposed against iran just haven't been working. there's some new information on additional iranian mischief, if i could, david of the chairman of joint chiefs of staff told reporters there is new evidence that iran has shipped a substantial number of weapons from iran into kandahar, into the hands of enemy forces just as the u.s. and nato allies planning to launch an offensive against the city, which is a spiritual capital .

    >> preparing for this large offensive, iran 's involvement floating arm incredible. jim miklaszewski at the pentagon. jim, thanks as always.

updated 3/30/2010 8:25:29 PM ET 2010-03-31T00:25:29

An Iranian nuclear scientist who had been reported missing since last summer has defected to the U.S. and is assisting the CIA in its efforts to undermine Iran's nuclear program, ABC News reported Tuesday.

The scientist, Shahram Amiri, has been resettled in the U.S., according to the report.

The CIA had no comment on the report, a spokesman said.

President Barack Obama said Tuesday he hopes international sanctions against Iran for pursuing its nuclear ambitions will be in place this spring. Iran maintains that its nuclear research is for peaceful purposes and not to develop weapons.

Amiri, who worked at Tehran's Malek Ashtar University, an institution closely connected to Iran's Revolutionary Guard, disappeared last June while in Saudi Arabia on a pilgrimage. While his disappearance led to speculation that he had defected and was assisting the West in its efforts to keep track of Iran's nuclear program, the foreign minister for Iran accused the U.S. of helping to kidnap him.

Citing people briefed on the intelligence operation, ABC News said Amiri's disappearance was part of a long-planned CIA operation to persuade him to defect. The CIA reportedly approached Amiri in Iran through an intermediary who made an offer of resettlement on behalf of the United States, ABC News said.

Amiri has been extensively debriefed since his defection, according to the report, and has helped to confirm U.S. intelligence assessments about the Iranian nuclear program.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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