Iranian Nuclear Scientist Assassinated With Bomb
Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, one of Iran’s leading nuclear scientists and a beloved university lecturer, was killed Wednesday in a bomb-attack while riding in a car in the nation’s capital city.
Witnesses say that the precision explosion, which killed both Dr. Ahmadi-Roshan and his driver, took place after motorcyclists attached what appears to have been a bomb on the side of the car.
Ahmadi-Roshan, who taught in Tehran and also provided expertise for the much-discussed Natanz uranium enrichment facility, is just one in a long line of Iranian nuclear scientists who have been assassinated in recent years.
Iranian authorities as well as regional experts believe that Israeli and/or American secret services are behind the assassinations. Evidence to corroborate their assumptions has not yet been found, however, and both the U.S. and Israeli government have consistently denied involvement.
In a news conference today, spokeswoman for the U.S. state department Victoria Nuland told journalists that she did not have “any information to share one way or the other” regarding the assassination.
Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi appeared on national television shortly after the Dr. Ahmadi-Roshan’s death was reported and told Iranians that progress with the country’s nuclear program would not be halted by the assassination of the young scientist.
In an attempt to flip the rhetorical tables against the nation’s biggest international antagonists, Rahimi went on the offensive, calling the civilian assassination “evidence of [foreign] government-sponsored terrorism.”
The small, controlled blast occurred on the campus of Iran’s Allameh Tabatai University in Tehran.
Two others were reportedly also injured in the blast, which took place near Gol Nabi Street, in the north of the capital.
Local reports say that 32-year-old Ahmadi-Roshan and his driver were killed by a magnetic bomb that was placed on his Peugeot 405 by two assailants on a motorcycle.
“The bomb was a magnetic one and the same as the ones previously used for the assassination of [Iranian] scientists, and the work of the Zionists,” said Tehran’s deputy governor Safarali Baratloo.
BBC’s Tehran reporter Mohsen Asgari says that the explosion was caused by a precision device designed to kill inside a minimal blast radius and small enough not to be heard more than a few hundred yards away.
The death of Dr. Ahmadi-Roshan was just days before the two-year anniversary of the death of Dr. Massoud Ali Mohammadi, the 50-year-old Iranian researcher who was assassinated with a remote-controlled bomb at his home in Tehran in 2010.
The assassination comes amidst surging pressure from the U.S. and Europe for Iran to stop its nuclear activity.
The day before the incident, Israel’s military chief Lieutenant General Benny Gantz cryptically told a parliamentary panel that 2012 would a “critical year” for the Iranian government, partly because of “things that [will] happen to it unnaturally.”
Iran is in a tight spot on a number of fronts, says Mickey Segal, former director of the Iranian unit of Israeli’s intelligence department.
“Iran is in a situation where pressure on it is mounting, and the latest assassination joins the pressure that the Iranian regime is facing.”
It remains to be seen whether such assassinations will have the effect of weakening or strengthening the resolve of the Iranian government to resist Western pressure and push forward with its nuclear program.