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Iran claims it has dismantled Israeli spy ring behind nuclear scientist's death

Iran state TV last night broadcast a confession by an Iranian who said senior Israeli officers helped him rehearse the bombing that killed an Iranian nuclear scientist a year ago.

By Staff writer / January 11, 2011

Iranian Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi speaks with media during a press conference in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Jan. 11. Iran's intelligence chief is revealing more details about the investigation into last year's killing of a nuclear physicist.

Vahid Salemi/AP

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Istanbul, Turkey

Iran stepped up claims on Tuesday that it had dismantled an Israeli spy ring that assassinated a nuclear physicist a year ago, and bolstered its case with video of what it called a “confession” from an Israel-trained Iranian hit man.

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“One of our biggest achievements was penetration into intelligence system of [Israeli spy agency Mossad] culprits, which enabled us to recognize the nature of their measures,” Iran’s Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi told journalists on Tuesday in Tehran, as he announced the arrest of more than 10 suspects whom he said were members of “several networks.”

Mr. Moslehi claimed that Iran had delivered a “severe blow” to Mossad while investigating the motorcycle bomb attack that killed Prof. Masoud Ali Mohammadi in January 2010.

“The spy and terror networks were working as a cell, which means that they had no information about each other’s activities and they did not know one another,” said Moslehi, according to a translation by state-run PressTV.

Unclear why Ali Mohammadi was targeted

Footage shown with the report included communications gear and a bomb, several pistols and a silencer, and numerous magazines and rows of bullets. Reports also showed the aftermath of the attack outside the physicist’s house, in which the blast peppered his car with shrapnel and reduced the booby-trapped motorcycle to a burned frame.

It remains unclear why Mr. Ali Mohammadi was targeted, since he played little apparent role in Iran’s atomic work, which has attracted four sets of United Nations Security Council sanctions over US-led concerns that Iran wants to secretly build a nuclear weapon.

Iran denies that it wants anything more than peaceful nuclear power. But Israel has stated repeatedly that it considers Iran’s actions an “existential” threat. It has not ruled out military strikes, and is believed by analysts to be partly behind covert attempts – along with its ally and fellow arch-foe of Iran, the United States – to sabotage Iran’s efforts on the ground and with a malicious computer worm called Stuxnet.

Israel’s outgoing Mossad chief last week pushed back the Israeli prediction of when Iran would be capable of making a weapon, if it chose to do so, to 2015 or later. Meir Dagan was quoted by Israeli media as saying that unspecified “measures” used against Iran had delayed its nuclear program.

Confession: I met Israeli officers on a base

Iran’s state-owned television station broadcast Monday night what it called a video confession by Majid Jamali Fash, who it portrayed as a Mossad agent and “main element” in the attack who was trained by Israeli intelligence in Israel.

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