Amiri's precise role in U.S. intelligence gathering remains unclear. Former and current intelligence officials told ABC News that Amiri confirmed the existence of a secret underground enrichment facility near Qom and also described him as a key source in the conclusions of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which found that Iran had suspended its nuclear weaponization program. Initially, before Amiri defected back to Iran, the same officials told ABC News that Amiri's information had contradicted the 2007 NIE finding, but further reporting indicates that was an incorrect interpretation.
CIA director Leon Panetta acknowledged in June to ABC News that the CIA no longer believed the conclusions of the 2007 NIE, saying that Tehran continues "to work on designs" for a nuclear weapon.
"I think they continue to develop their know-how," Panetta said. "They continue to develop their nuclear capability."
Iran's nuclear ambitions have been the subject of international debate. The Obama administration recently called for increased U.N. sanctions. Amiri, once a star scientist for the Iranian nuclear program,according to U.S. officials, has become the center of efforts of both countries to characterize Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Tehran has said that its nuclear program is for energy purposes only and denies ambitions for a nuclear weapon.
Iranian intelligence and the CIA posted dueling videos of the scientist earlier this year. In one video, Amiri claimed the U.S. kidnapped, drugged and tortured him, in the other he said he was happy to be in the U.S. CLICK HERE TO SEE THE DUELING VIDEOS
CIA officials pushed for Amiri to flee the country out of fear that his disclosures might have exposed him to Tehran as a spy.
Amiri vanished last June during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. The Iranian government claimed then that their scientist, a professor at Tehran's Malek Ashtar University, had been kidnapped by the CIA. In fact, say U.S. officials, the CIA, with the help of the Saudi government, whisked Amiri to the U.S., where he was to permanently resettle.
A few months after Amiri arrived, the Obama Administration announced that U.S. intelligence had discovered a second, hidden nuclear enrichment facility in the Iranian city of Qom.
Then came the alleged threats by Iranian intelligence, which set off the bizarre battle of dueling videos that were released earlier this month. The first, which was broadcast on Iranian state television, shows Amiri speaking to a computer camera and announcing that the U.S. had drugged and kidnapped him and forced him to Tucson, Arizona.
He appeared to be looking down at a script as he spoke.
According to the two current U.S. officials, Amiri called home earlier this year because he missed his family. On a second call, Iranian intelligence answered and threatened to harm his son, unless he taped an internet video saying he'd been kidnapped. Amiri, fearing for his family, agreed, according to a person briefed on the case.