An Iranian university professor was killed by a bomb placed on his car by a motorcyclist in Tehran on Wednesday, a city official told the Fars news agency, blaming Israel for an attack he said was similar to ones targeting nuclear scientists a year ago.
Iran said Israel and the United States were behind a car-bomb assassination of one of its nuclear scientists in Tehran, calling it a “terrorist act” in the same vein as previous killings of other Iranian scientists.
But the White House on Wednesday denied any U.S. role in the assassination of the nuclear scientist.
“The United States had absolutely nothing to do with this,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said. “We strongly condemn all acts of violence, including acts of violence like what is being reported today.”
“We condemn any assassination or attack on an innocent person and we express our sympathies to the family,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters at her daily briefing.
The scientist killed was working at Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility, a university website said.
The scientist, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, “has been working as the deputy in charge of commerce at the Natanz site,” said a posting on the website of Sharif University in Tehran, from which Ahmadi Roshan graduated around a decade ago, according to AFP.
“He was working on project of making polymeric membrane for separating gas,” the university website said.
“This terrorist act was carried out by agents of the Zionist regime (Israel) and by those who claim to be combatting terrorism (the United States) with the aim of stopping our scientists from serving” Iran, Vice President Mohammed Reza Rahimi told state television.
He added that the latest attack would not stop Iran forging ahead with its controversial nuclear program.
“They (Israel and the United States) should know that Iranian scientists are more determined than ever in striding towards Iran's progress,” he said.
“The bomb was a magnetic one and the same as the ones previously used for the assassination of the scientists, and is the work of the Zionists (Israelis)” Fars quoted Deputy Governor Safarali Baratloo as saying.
Witnesses told Reuters they saw two people on the motorbike stick the bomb to the car. As well as the person killed in the car, a pedestrian was also killed by the blast. Another person in the car was gravely injured, they said.
Israel ‘not shedding tear’
A senior Israeli official on Wednesday gave a cryptic reaction to the car bomb, saying he was unaware who did it but calling it an act of “revenge.”
“I don’t know who took revenge on the Iranian scientist, but I am definitely not shedding a tear,” Israeli military spokesman Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai wrote on his official Facebook page.
Iran stays defiant
Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said on Wednesday the country’s nuclear path will not change after Tehran accused Israel of killing one of its nuclear scientists in a “heinous act.”
The agency said in a statement that the disputed nuclear program, which Iran says is for energy and the West says aims to make atomic weapons, would carry on despite international pressure, Iran’s Arabic language al Alam TV reported.
“We will continue our (nuclear) path without any doubt ... Our path is irreversible,” said the statement quoted by the television channel.
The statement said the lecturer, who was killed on Wednesday by a magnet bomb fixed to his car by a motorcyclist, was an Iranian nuclear scientist.
The heinous acts of America and the criminal Zionist regime (Israel) will not disrupt our glorious path and Iran will firmly continue this path with no doubt,” the statement said.
“The more you kill us, the more our nation will become awakened as our late leader of the Islamic revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had said.”
Other scientists killed
Three other Iranian scientists were killed in 2010 and 2011 when their cars blew up in similar circumstances. At least two of the scientists had been working on nuclear activities.
The current head of Iran’s atomic organization, Fereydoun Abbasi, escaped another such attempt in November 2010, getting out of his car with his wife just before the attached bomb exploded.
Those attacks were viewed by Iranian officials as assassination operations carried out by Israel’s Mossad intelligence service, possibly with help from U.S. counterparts.
Iran denies Western suspicions that its nuclear program has military goals, saying it is for purely peaceful purposes.