Nuclear scientist heading back to Iran, hurting US intelligence (+ analysis); Israel resumes demolitions in East Jerusalem; Japanese PM gets reprieve in latest polls; How do you define a terrorist? Petraeus weighs in; and more
Top of the Agenda: Iranian Nuclear Scientist to Return Home
Shahram Amiri, the Iranian nuclear scientist (WSJ) who Iran said was kidnapped last year by the United States, left Washington to return to Iran. The reappearance of Amiri, who disappeared during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in 2009, raised questions about his contact with the US government and why he would return to Iran. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Amiri had been in the United States "of his own free will," traveled to the embassy on his own, and was free to leave the country. Iranian authorities may have threatened Amiri's family if he didn't return home. Clinton contrasted Amiri's situation with that of three American hikers held in Iran for the past year and said they should also "be allowed to act on their own free will and be released immediately."
The case is embarrassing for both governments. The Obama administration considered Amiri's defection an intelligence coup (WashPost). Iran described Amiri's desire to the leave the United States as a setback for US efforts, though Amiri may have revealed secrets about Iran's nuclear program.
The Economist blog says Obama administration sources have told reporters that information from Amiri was crucial to passing recent sanctions at the UN Security Council.
On the WashingtonPost.com, David Ignatius says Amiri's return to Tehran will be a propaganda coup for the Iranian regime, deterring other Iranian scientists "who might have considered jumping ship."
Watch the series of videos of Amiri.
This Backgrounder examines Iran's nuclear program.
PACIFIC RIM: China Faces Difficulties in Stoking Spending
China is facing difficulties increasing its citizens' domestic spending enough to radically shift from an export-dependent economy (VOA) to a consumption-led one.
This Backgrounder examines the China-US economic imbalance.
Japan: Opinion polls show that most Japanese voters want Prime Minister Naoto Kan to stay in power (AFP), despite plummeting approval ratings after his party's electoral defeat over the weekend.
This is an excerpt of the CFR.org Daily News Brief. The full version is available on CFR.org