An Iranian nuclear scientist who supervised a department at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility has been killed by a bomb placed on his car by two assailants in northern Tehran.
The attack strongly resembles earlier killings of scientists working on the country’s nuclear program, which have been linked to U.S. and Israeli covert actions.
The car bomb killed Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a chemistry expert and a director of the Natanz facility. “The deputy governor of Tehran is blaming [the attack] on Israel, saying it wants to destabilize the country ahead of presidential elections in March,” Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari said.
Previously, a similar attack on January 2010, killed Masoud Ali Mohammadi, a senior physics professor at Tehran University, when a bomb-rigged motorcycle exploded near his car as he was about to leave for work.
In November 2010, a pair of back-to-back bomb attacks in different parts of the capital killed a nuclear scientist, Majid Shahriari, a member of the nuclear engineering faculty at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran and involved with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.
Another incident in July 2011 involved two unidentified gunmen on motorcycles who assassinated Darioush Rezaeinejad. Some reports said Rezaeinejad was an electronics student, while others said he was a scientist working on the nuclear program.
In November, the Guardian reported unequivocally that U.S.-Israeli “black operations” have “targeted Iran’s scientists.” And in August, the German paper Der Spiegel leaked an admission from an Israeli intelligence official that Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, had been involved in the assassinations.
Speaking to the latest of such killings at the time, Der Spiegel wrote “There is little doubt in the shadowy world of intelligence agencies that Israel is behind the assassination of Darioush Rezaei.” The Israeli intelligence official told the reporter, “That was the first serious action taken by the new Mossad chief Tamir Pardo.”
In a closed-door parliamentary meeting on Tuesday, Israel’s military chief of staff Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz said Iran should expect “continuing and growing pressure from the international community and things which take place in an unnatural manner.” This was widely interpreted as referring to covert acts of sabotage and violence in Iran.
There is no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, and the opinion of the U.S. intelligence community, the Obama administration, and the latest IAEA report is that Iran’s enrichment is so far civilian in nature. Given this, if these attacks have been carried out by the U.S. and Israel, they are simply unprovoked acts of terrorism.