| GEO World|
| Iranian nuclear scientist defects to US: report|
| Updated at: 0511 PST, Wednesday, March 31, 2010|
WASHINGTON: A leading Iranian nuclear scientist has defected to the United States and is working with the CIA, ABC News reported late Tuesday.
Shahram Amiri, a nuclear physicist in his early thirties, disappeared in June 2009 after arriving in Saudi Arabia on a pilgrimage.
ABC said that US intelligence agents described the defection as "an intelligence coup" in US efforts to undermine Iran's nuclear program.
Amiri's disappearance "was part of a long-planned CIA operation to get him to defect," ABC reported, citing unnamed people briefed on the operation by US intelligence officials.
On October 7, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki charged that there was US involvement in Amiri's disappearance.
"We have obtained documents that show US interference in the disappearance of Shahram Amiri in Saudi Arabia," Mottaki was quoted as saying by Iran's Fars news agency.