Continued from page 1

He is on a sanctions list under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1747, passed in 2007, which described him as a Defense Ministry scientist with links to the Institute of Applied Physics, working closely with Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, another nuclear scientist on the sanctions list. Under the resolution, those on the list are under a travel ban and international assets freeze.

A pro-government website,, said Mr. Abbasi held a doctorate in nuclear physics and long has been a member of the Revolutionary Guard, the country’s most powerful military force. It said he was also a lecturer at Imam Hossein University, affiliated with the Guard. The United States accuses the Guard of having a role in Iran‘s nuclear program.

The site said Mr. Abbasi was a laser expert at Iran‘s Defense Ministry and one of few top Iranian specialists in nuclear isotope separation.

Isotope separation — meaning the isolating of a specific isotope of an element — is a process needed for a range of purposes, from producing enriched uranium fuel for a reactor to manufacturing medical isotopes to producing a bomb.

Iran says its nuclear program is intended entirely for peaceful purposes, including producing electricity. The United Nations has demanded a halt to uranium enrichment because it can be used to produce reactor fuel or a bomb, but Tehran insists it has a right to pursue the technology.

Iran has continued to portray its nuclear program as being under constant pressure from the West and its allies. These include alleged abductions of nuclear officials and, more recently, a computer worm known as Stuxnet, which experts say was calibrated to destroy uranium-enrichment centrifuges by sending them spinning out of control. Iran says its experts stopped Stuxnet from affecting systems at its nuclear facilities.

Monday’s attacks bore close similarities to another in January that killed Tehran University Professor Masoud Ali Mohammadi, a senior physicist. He was killed when a bomb-rigged motorcycle exploded near his car as he was about to leave for work.

In 2007, state TV reported that nuclear scientist Ardeshir Hosseinpour died from gas poisoning. A one-week delay in the reporting of his death prompted speculation about the cause, including that Israel‘s Mossad spy agency was to blame.

The latest attacks came a day after the release of internal State Department cables by the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, including several that vividly detail Arab fears over Iran‘s nuclear program and its growing political ambitions in the region.

Arab worries over Iran often have been expressed in public in careful, diplomatic language by officials in the Gulf and elsewhere. The messages obtained by WikiLeaks, however, appear to reflect the urgency of the concerns and the impression that a U.S.-led attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would be welcomed by some leaders of Arab nations in the Middle East, especially the oil-rich states that neighbor Iran in the Persian Gulf.

Lawmaker Javad Jahangirzadeh said Israel was behind the attacks and was trying to “create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation to stop the progress of our scientists.”

There are several active armed groups that oppose Iran‘s ruling clerics, but it’s unclear whether they could have carried out the apparently coordinated bombings in the capital. Most anti-government violence in recent years has been isolated in Iran‘s provinces, such the border with Pakistan, where Sunni rebels are active, and the western mountains near Iraq, where Kurdish separatists operate.