Yossi Melman, BaraK Ravid – Haaretz January 13, 2010
Israel refused Tuesday to react to Iranian accusations that it or the United States was behind a mysterious explosion that killed an Iranian nuclear physicist in Tehran Tuesday.
Iran blamed Israel and the United States Tuesday for the death of Dr. Massoud Ali Mohammadi, 50, a nuclear physics professor who is believed to have publicly backed opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. The Iranian government said that Israel and the United States had used a militant opposition group to carry out the assassination of Mohammadi, who was involved in Tehran's nuclear program.
Mohammadi was killed in a powerful bomb blast as he was leaving home in northern Tehran for work.
Both the Prime Minister's Office and the Foreign Ministry refused to comment on the explosion or the Iranian accusations. U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner denied the charge the United States was behind the blast yesterday, calling accusations "absurd."
But the Iranian foreign ministry had a different take on the bomb blast.
"One can see in preliminary investigations signs of the triangle of evil of the Zionist regime, America and their mercenaries in Iran in this terrorist incident," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said.
"Such terrorist acts and the physical elimination of the country's nuclear scientists will certainly not stop the scientific and technological process but will speed it up," he added.
"Given the fact that Massoud Ali Mohammadi was a nuclear scientist, the CIA and Mossad services and agents most likely have had a hand in it," Iranian prosecutor general Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said.
Iran's state-run Arabic-language television Al-Alam identified Mohammadi as a "hezbollahi" teacher - a term used for staunch supporters of the Iranian regime. However, opposition Web sites described Mohammadi as an outspoken supporter of Mousavi.
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that Ali Mohammadi was involved in a regional research project that also involved Israeli scientists. The project, called Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East, or SESAME, is based in Jordan and operates under United Nations auspices.
Iranian and foreign scientists told the Washington Post the project has applications in industry, medicine, nanotechnology and other fields unrelated to nuclear power.
Palestinians also participate in the project, whose last meeting was held in November in Jordan.
An Israeli scientist present at the meeting told the Washington Post that he talked to Ali Mohammadi during an informal group meeting. "We did not discuss politics or nuclear issues, as our project is not connected to nuclear physics," Rabinovici told the paper.
An Iranian scientist involved in the project denied that there had been any direct meetings between his delegation and the Israelis. "They are present in the same room, but there are no direct meetings," Javad Rahighi, a nuclear researcher, told the Washington Post. "We are all shocked," he said. "I couldn't imagine anybody wanting to kill him. He was a scientist, nothing more."
Last updated 15/01/2010