Report: Bomb kills Iranian nuclear expert
Two assailants on a motorcycle attached magnetic bombs to the car of an Iranian university professor working at a key nuclear facility, killing him and wounding two people on Wednesday, a semiofficial news agency reported.
The attack in Tehran bore a strong resemblance to earlier killings of scientists working on the Iranian nuclear program. It is certain to reinforce authorities’ claims of widening clandestine operations by Western powers and allies to try to cripple nuclear advancements.
The bomb killed Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a chemistry expert and a director of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in central Iran, the semiofficial Fars news agency reported. Natanz is Iran’s main enrichment site, but officials claimed earlier this week that they are expanding some operations to an underground site south of Tehran with more advanced equipment.
The U.S. and its allies are pressuring Iran to halt uranium enrichment, a key element of the nuclear program that the West suspects is aimed at producing atomic weapons. Uranium enriched to low levels can be used as nuclear fuel but at higher levels, it can be used as material for a nuclear warhead. Iran denies it is trying to make nuclear weapons.
The killing of Roshan was similar to previous assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists that Tehran has blamed on Israel’s Mossad and the United States. Both countries have denied the accusations.
But Israeli officials have hinted about covert campaigns against Iran without directly admitting involvement.
On Tuesday, Israeli military chief Lt. Gen Benny Gantz was quoted as telling a parliamentary panel that 2012 would be a “critical year” for Iran — in part because of “things that happen to it unnaturally.”
Safar Ali Baratloo, a senior security official, was quoted by Fars as saying the attack was the work of Israelis.
“The magnetic bomb is of the same types already used to assassinate our scientists,” he said. “The terrorist attack is a conspiracy to undermine the (March 2) parliamentary elections.”
Roshan, 32, was inside the Iranian-assembled Peugeot 405 car together with two others when the bomb exploded near Gol Nabi Street in north Tehran, Fars reported.
Fars described the explosion as a “terrorist attack” targeting Roshan, a graduate of the prestigious Sharif University of Technology in Tehran.