Iran blames Israel after nuclear scientist is killed

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TEHRAN (AP) — Assailants on motorcycles attached magnetized bombs to the cars of two nuclear scientists in Tehran on Monday, killing one and wounding another who is on a U.N. sanctions list for suspect activity. The president accused Israel and the West of being behind the attacks.

The wounded scientist, Fereidoun Abbasi, is specified by a 2007 U.N. resolution for sanctions because of suspected links to secret nuclear activities, describing him as a Defense Ministry scientist. Iranian media said he was a member of Iran‘s Revolutionary Guard, the country’s strongest military force.

The other scientist, who died in the attack and does not appear in any U.N. resolutions, was involved in a major project with Iran‘s nuclear agency, said the agency’s chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, though he did not give specifics.

Iranian officials said they suspected the assassination was part of a covert campaign aimed at damaging the country’s nuclear program, which the United States and its allies say is intended to build a weapon — a claim Tehran denies. At least two other Iranian nuclear scientists have been killed in recent years, one of them in an attack similar to Monday’s.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a press conference that “undoubtedly, the hand of the Zionist regime and Western governments is involved in the assassination.”

But he said the attack would not hamper the nuclear program, and he vowed that one day Iran would take retribution. “The day in the near future when time will come for taking them into account, their file will be very thick,” he said.

Asked about the Iranian accusations, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said Israel did not comment on such matters. Washington strongly has denied any link to previous attacks.

The attacks, as described by Iranian officials, appeared sophisticated.

In each case, assailants on motorcycles approached the cars as they were moving through Tehran and attached magnetized bombs to the vehicles, Tehran police Chief Hossein Sajednia said. The bombs exploded seconds later, he said, according to the state news agency, IRNA.

He said no one has been arrested in connection with the attack, nor has anyone claimed responsibility so far.

The bombings both took place in the morning, but there were conflicting reports on what time each exploded. The bombs went off in two separate locations, in north and northeast Tehran, that lie about a 15-minute drive apart without traffic.

The slain scientist, Majid Shahriari, was a member of the nuclear engineering faculty at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran. His wife, who was in the car with him, was wounded.

Mr. Shahriari cooperated with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said Mr. Salehi, a vice president who heads the organization. “He was involved in one of the big AEOI projects, which is a source of pride for the Iranian nation,” Mr. Salehi said, according to IRNA, without giving any details on the project. Mr. Salehi also said the killed scientist was one of his own students.

The AEOI is in charge of Iran‘s nuclear activities, including its uranium enrichment program, which the United Nations has demanded be halted.

The other attack targeted Mr. Abbasi, who was wounded along with his wife.

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