Managing nuclear proliferation – from kidnapping and murder to diplomacy and political will

Nuclear physics is a dangerous profession. It is not just the threat of accidental exposure to radioactive material that is cause for concern, it is a profession that might get you kidnapped or killed.

It might sound like the script of a James Bond or “Hitman” Agent 47 movie, where nuclear scientists or their families are abducted, extorted, held for ransom or just picked off on the street. Oddly, reality now imitates fiction in a gruesome world where nations compete for a nuclear edge and terrorists seek a path to dirty bomb development.

In this 2010 photo, Shahram Amiri, an Iranian nuclear scientist greets his son Amir Hossein as he arrives at the airport in Tehran, after returning from the United States. Amiri, who was caught up in a real-life U.S. spy mystery and later returned to his homeland, was executed under mysterious circumstances. Amiri was hanged recently. Vahid Salemi Associated Press file.

In this 2010 photo, Shahram Amiri, an Iranian nuclear scientist greets his son Amir Hossein as he arrives at the airport in Tehran, after returning from the United States. Amiri, who was caught up in a real-life U.S. spy mystery and later returned to his homeland, was executed under mysterious circumstances. Amiri was hanged recently. Vahid Salemi Associated Press file.

Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri is the latest victim, a conflicted defector to the West who later returned home to his Tehran family. The reunion was short-lived as he recently met an Iranian hangman, convicted of being an American spy.

Amiri, warned by the CIA, should have seen the killing coming.

Unlike Amiri, other nuclear professionals are unaware they are marked men.  Read more.