Bombing Kills Iranian Nuclear Scientist

Posted January 11th, 2012 at 12:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Iranian media say a bomb blast in Tehran has killed a university professor who also worked as a scientist on Iran's nuclear program.

The Fars news agency said two unidentified people on a motorcycle planted the bomb under the car of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, killing him and his driver on Wednesday. The report said a passerby was wounded by the blast in the northern part of the capital.

In statements, Iran blamed the attack on Israel and the United States. Iran's Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi told state television that the incident will not stop the country from advancing its nuclear activities.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says the United States “condemns any assassination or attack on an innocent person.” But when asked if the Iranian scientist was an innocent life, she “had nothing further to say on this.”

Asked about Iran's allegations that Israel and the United States were behind the bombing, she said, “I am not going to speak to who may or may not have done this one way or the other.”

Iran's Fars agency said 32-year-old Roshan supervised a department at the Natanz nuclear facility, Iran's main enrichment site. Iran has been enriching uranium to relatively low levels at the above-ground site.

The attack comes a day after Iranian officials confirmed that a new underground complex has started refining uranium, and diplomats with ties to the U.N. nuclear agency say the work is being done at a much higher lever of purity.

Attackers have killed or wounded several Iranian nuclear scientists in recent years, including blasts in late 2010 that state media also attributed to bombs placed on cars by motorcyclists.

The U.N. Security Council has imposed four sets of sanctions on Iran for refusing to stop enrichment work, which has civilian and military uses. Later this month, the European Union will discuss a possible oil export embargo to further pressure on Iran.

Western powers accuse Iran of trying to develop a nuclear weapon. Tehran says its nuclear ambitions are peaceful.

On Tuesday, Israeli military chief Lieutenant General Benny Gantaz told parliamentarians that 2012 would be a “critical year” for Iran because things would happen to the country in an unnatural way.