US paid Iranian nuclear scientist $5 mn: Report

Intelligence about the Iranian nuclear program is at a premium for the US.

Washington: The Iranian nuclear scientist who said he was abducted by US agents was paid more than USD 5 million by the CIA for information about Iran`s nuclear program, The Washington Post reported on Thursday, citing US officials.

Shahram Amiri, who arrived back in Iran early on Thursday, is not obligated to return the money but might not be able to access it after ending "significant cooperation" with the CIA and returning home, the newspaper reported.

"Anything he got is now beyond his reach, thanks to the financial sanctions on Iran," a US official said. "He`s gone, but his money`s not. We have his information, and the Iranians have him."

Intelligence about the Iranian nuclear program is at a premium for the United States, which fears a nuclear-armed Iran would threaten its close ally, Israel, as well as oil supplies from the Gulf, and friendly nations in Europe. Iran insists its nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes.

US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, speculated Amiri may have abruptly left the United States because of concern the Iranian government might harm his family, the Post said.

The CIA had no immediate comment on the report.

Amiri`s request this week to be sent home stunned US officials who said he had been working with the US intelligence agency for more than a year, the Post reported.

Iran accuses the CIA of kidnapping Amiri a year ago while he was on a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. Amiri, who worked for Iran`s Atomic Energy Organisation, surfaced at the Iranian interests section of the Pakistani embassy in Washington on Monday.

Washington denied kidnapping Amiri and insisted he had lived freely in the United States. But a US official said on Wednesday the United States, eager for details of Tehran`s nuclear program, had obtained "useful" information from him.

One official told the Post that the payments to Amiri reflected the value of the information obtained.

"The support is keyed to what the person`s done, including how their material has checked out over time," the official said. "You don`t give something for nothing."

On his arrival back in Iran, Amiri was greeted by his wife and tearful young son at Tehran`s International Imam Khomeini Airport, along with other family members and a senior Foreign Ministry official.

Bureau Report

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