The U.S. government's efforts to learn more about Iran's clandestine nuclear weapons program have been set back as an Iranian nuclear scientist is returning to his homeland in an apparent defection gone wrong.
Shahram Amiri disappeared while on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia last year. This week, the Obama administration acknowledged for the first time that Amiri has been living in the U.S.
"He is here of his own volition and he has chosen to return to Iran of his own volition," said U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.
Amiri has presented conflicting reports about his time in the U.S.
In one instance, he claimed he was was kidnapped, but some believe the Iranian government coerced him into making that statement.
"Iranian agents have been putting much pressure on him to come back in order to avoid his family being tortured and executed," said Reza Kahlili, self-proclaimed former CIA agent. "Unfortunately he's made the decision to go back to save his family where he will be most likely used as a propaganda tool first.
Kahlili thinks Amri's return will only give the the Iranian government a propaganda victory, but won't spare him or his family from torture.
Important questions now remain about what intelligence, if any, Amiri shared with U.S. intelligence officials about Iran's nuclear program. Reliable information is of enormous value to the U.S. as it seeks to stop Iran from successfully creating an atomic weapon.