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Iran accused Saudi Arabia yesterday of handing over a senior Iranian nuclear scientist to the US. Shahram Amiri, thought to be in his early 30s, vanished in Mecca on May 31 while on pilgrimage. He worked at Iran’s nuclear plant in Natanz, where uranium is enriched.

Why Amiri disappeared in Saudi Arabia is unclear but some western diplomats in Tehran suspect he might have defected. A former deputy defense minister, Alireza Asgari, defected in 2006 while in Turkey.

A western observer in Riyadh said: “Iran brings up this subject whenever it wants to divert attention away from the standstill on its nuclear issue. The scientist could be anywhere. The Saudi government does not control movement of pilgrims after they leave the country.” Source: The Financial Times

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