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Two bomb blasts in the Iranian capital Monday killed a top nuclear scientist and wounded another.
State-controlled media immediately accused the US and Israel of being behind the assassination, which came days before Iran is scheduled to discuss its nuclear program with international officials. And on Sunday a trove of US embassy cables revealed by WikiLeaks revealed that multiple Arab countries have urged the US to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful, while many Western nations accuse Tehran of using the program to develop nuclear weapons.
State media reported that two bombs were attached to the cars of the scientists by unidentified men on motorcycles, then detonated from a distance, reports Agence France-Presse. The scientist killed was Majid Shahriari, a professor in the nuclear engineering department at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran. Fereydoon Abbasi, also a professor at the university who is involved in nuclear research at the Defense Ministry, was wounded.
AFP reports that Abbasi was a member of the Revolutionary Guard and "one of the few specialists who can separate isotopes," according to a state news website.
Shahriari worked with Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency, reports The New York Times. The agency’s head said he managed one of the organization’s “major projects.” He also issued a warning to Western nations. “Don’t play with fire,” he said, according to state media. “The patience of the Iranian people has its limits. If our patience runs out, you will suffer the consequences.”
Both men targeted Monday worked with a regional non-nuclear scientific research unit called Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East, or SESAME, reports The New York Times.
Unusually, its nine-member council includes representatives from Israel along with Iran and several other Muslim countries. It was not clear whether the killings of the two Iranian scientists were linked to their association with the organization.
Another scientist involved with SESAME was assassinated in January. Masoud Ali Mohammadi was also killed in a bomb attack, which Iranian officials also blamed on the US and Israel. But the AFP reports that Tehran’s deputy governor said the two attacks Monday were “different from previous assassinations.”
On Sunday, the organization WikiLeaks released secret US government communications revealing that Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, repeatedly urged the US to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities before it was “too late.” The Guardian reports that in addition to Saudi King Abdullah, leaders in Bahrain and Jordan called for the US to stop Iran’s nuclear program by any means. Leaders in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt also referred to Iran as a threat that could bring the region to war.
US Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview with CNN Sunday that the US has been considering military options to deal with the Iranian threat. He said he has no doubt that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, but that it’s important to focus on dialogue and engagement, reports Politico.