London, July 15 (ANI): Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri, who claimed to have been abducted by the CIA before departing for his homeland Wednesday, was paid over five million dollars by the agency to provide intelligence on Iran's nuclear program, U.S. officials have claimed.
Shahram Amiri is not obligated to return the money, but might be unable to access it after breaking off what U.S. officials described as significant cooperation with the CIA and abruptly returning to Iran.
Officials said he might have left out of concern that the Tehran government would harm his family.
"Anything he got is now beyond his reach, thanks to the financial sanctions on Iran," a U.S. official said.
The Washington Post further quoted the official, as saying: "He's gone, but his money's not. We have his information, and the Iranians have him."
Amiri arrived in Tehran early Thursday to a hero's welcome, including personal greetings from several senior government officials.
His seven-year-old son broke down in tears as Amiri held him for the first time since his mysterious disappearance in Saudi Arabia 14 months ago.
In brief remarks, Amiri told reporters, "I am so happy to be back in the Islamic republic," and he repeated his claims of having been abducted by U.S. agents. He said CIA agents had tried to pressure him into making propaganda against his homeland and offered him $50 million to remain in the United States.
Amiri also said that he knew little of Iran's main nuclear enrichment site. "I'm a simple researcher. A normal person would know more about Natanz than me."
Amiri's request this week to be sent home stunned U.S. officials, who said he had been working with the CIA for more than a year.
Whether the agency received an adequate return on its investment in Amiri is difficult to assess.
The size of the payment might offer some measure of the value of the information he shared. But it could also reflect a level of eagerness within the U.S. intelligence community for meaningful information on Iran.
The U.S. official said the payments reflected the value of the information gleaned.
"You don't give something for nothing," he added.
The transfer of millions of dollars into Amiri-controlled accounts also seems to bolster the U.S. government's assertions that Amiri was neither abducted nor brought to the United States against his will.
Amiri, 32, is known to have worked at Iran's Malek-e-Ashtar Industrial University, which U.S. intelligence agencies think is linked to the nation's Revolutionary Guard Corps, a powerful entity accused of activities ranging from weapons research to supporting terrorist groups.
According to the BBC, the scientist is not believed to have had direct access to Iran's most sensitive nuclear sites or leaders involved in decisions on whether to pursue a bomb.
Still, officials said Amiri was valuable in confirming information from other sources and providing details on multiple nuclear facilities. (ANI)