Secrets about Iran's clandestine uranium enrichment facility being constructed near Qom were revealed to UN weapons inspectors by an Iranian scientist who mysteriously disappeared six months ago, The Sunday Telegraph reported.
Scientist Shahram Amiri, who was said to have worked at the enrichment site, vanished during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in late May, Iranian authorities have said.
His disappearance came months before the revelation of the facility, and, quoting French intelligence sources, the British newspaper said that Amiri briefed the inspectors in a secret meeting at Frankfurt airport hours before they flew to Iran to inspect the plant.
Relatives quoted in Iranian media have said Amiri researches medical uses of nuclear technology at a Teheran university.
In October, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that the United States may have had a role in the disappearance of the nuclear scientist, and according to a "well-connected" French intelligence analysis Web site cited by The Sunday Telegraph, Amiri defected after an international undercover mission directed by the CIA.
"The agency made contact with the scientist last year when Amiri visited Frankfurt in connection with his research work," Intelligence Online reported. "A German businessman acted as go-between. A final contact was made in Vienna when Amiri traveled to Austria to assist the Iranian representative at the IAEA. Shortly afterwards, the scientist went on pilgrimage to Mecca and hasn't been seen since."
Amiri's intelligence about the inner workings and security procedures of the site near Qom proved "extremely useful," a source close to France's overseas secret service, the DGSE (Direction GÃ©nÃ©rale de la SÃ©curitÃ© ExtÃ©rieure), told The Sunday Telegraph.
"Amiri has first hand knowledge of the site and this would have been the main subject of discussion," he told the British paper. "The meeting was so secret that the inspectors who met Amiri were unlikely to have even known his name, let alone his background. He was just presented as a bona fide contact in the know about how Qom works."
"He would be an obvious conduit of information," said another source. "Why would the Iranians show four UN inspectors everything unless they knew what to ask for?"