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Iran scientist wants to go home

ROBERT BURNS
and ADAM GOLDMAN
Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON – An Iranian scientist sought refuge in the Pakistani Embassy compound and asked to go home, an apparent defection gone wrong that could embarrass the U.S. and its efforts to gather intelligence on Tehran’s suspected nuclear weapons program.

Iran – and at one point, scientist Shahram Amiri – claimed the CIA had kidnapped him; the U.S. said Tuesday that nothing of the sort happened. Amiri disappeared while on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in June 2009, surfacing in videos but otherwise out of sight until the latest bizarre twist in the case.

“Mr. Amiri has been in the United States of his own free will and he is free to go,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said. It was the first time the Obama administration publicly acknowledged Amiri was in the U.S.

Reliable and timely information about Iran’s nuclear program is of enormous importance to the Obama administration and other countries seeking to stop the Islamic republic from getting the bomb. Beyond using diplomatic means to try to stop Iran, the U.S. and Israel have not ruled out using military force.

Iran maintains that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.