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Deportation reprieve highlights effort to slow Iran's arms race

An Iranian woman in Canada has won a last-minute reprieve from deportation because her daughter is said to be a scientist who is spilling secrets about Tehran's clandestine nuclear programs.

The mother, identified only as "X" in a cryptic and terse Federal Court of Canada ruling released Wednesday, had argued she would be brutally mined for information if she was made to return to her homeland.

"The whereabouts of the daughter would potentially be exposed if she [the mother]would be returned to Iran and, thereby, allegedly be tortured by authorities of the Iranian regime who would do all they could to ensure that she would provide the whereabouts information in regard to her daughter," reads the ruling from Mr. Justice Michel Shore.

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The ruling does not make clear where the woman's daughter is located or to whom she might be speaking. She is identified only as an "allegedly defected Iranian Nuclear Energy Organization employee."

The ruling adds that deportation could place the lives of the two women at risk, and even members of the wider family including "one of whom [who]has allegedly, already been abducted by the Iranian authorities."

The reprieve for the woman adds another wrinkle to a hidden war, where the United States and its allies are doing all they can to keep Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.

In the past couple of years, some scientists in Iran have been mysteriously assassinated and strange computer viruses have wrought havoc with its hidden underground centrifuges. Last fall, U.S. President Barack Obama asked Iran to return a U.S. drone surveillance plane that crash-landed there.

Beyond all that, intelligence agencies – including Canadian ones – are relying on conventional intelligence-collection methods, including getting expatriate Iranians to disclose what they can.

Judge Shore has ordered federal officials to forgo deportation until they assess the risks the mother might face if she is made to return to Iran.

"Considering that more is unknown in this matter than is known, the Canadian authorities need to ensure for themselves that they are aware of all aspects [internal and external]of the matter, due to the sensitivity of the issues prior to making a decision," Judge Shore's ruling says.

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