Blasts target Iranian nuclear scientists, killing one [updated]
November 29, 2010 1 Comment
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Teams of unknown assailants chose the first day of the WikiLeaks diplomatic revelations to attack two senior Iranian nuclear scientists in capital Tehran, managing to kill one of them. While the world is preoccupied with the WikiLeaks releases of United States diplomatic cables, two teams of motorcyclists, each consisting of a driver and a backseat rider, targeted the two scientists during the morning rush hour in Tehran, as they were driving to work with their wives in their cars. They attached small bombs to the car windows of their targets and detonated them from a relatively safe distance before speeding away through heavy traffic. The attackers managed to kill Dr. Majid Shahriari, a senior nuclear researcher and prominent professor at the Shahid Beheshti University in the northern suburbs of Tehran, who had taught at the Iranian armed forces’ Supreme National Defense University. Dr. Shahriari’s wife was injured in the attack. A separate bomb attack injured Dr. Fereydoon Abbasi Davan, who also teaches at Shahid Beheshti, and is described in Iranian media reports as “one of a handful of [Iranian] experts who are able to isolate isotopes” for the purpose of manufacturing uranium required for both nuclear energy and weapons. Davan’s wife was also injured in the attack. The Iranian government has issued a statement blaming Israeli and “Western” intelligence services for the attacks. In January of this year, another bomb planted on a motorcycle parked by the entrance of a block of flats in Tehran killed Iranian physicist Masoud Ali Mohammadi. It is, at this point, too early to make hasty conclusions about the motives behind the assassinations. It is worth pointing out, however, that the CIA’s covert program targeting the Iranian nuclear physics community, which, according to The New York Times began in 2008, is well known. There is also intense speculation among intelligence observers about what sources describe as a covert “decapitation program” of Iran’s nuclear program by Israeli intelligence, which allegedly includes bribing and assassinations Iranian scientists, such as that of Ardeshire Hassanpour in 2007.
Update [29 NOV 2010]: Interestingly, Shahriari and Mohammadi, were among several Iranian researchers who had regular contacts with Israeli and Arab physicists, through a United Nations-sponsored scientific collaboration project based in Amman, Jordan. The program, known as Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME), was focused on non-nuclear physics applications in the medical industry and nanotechnology.