Another Iranian nuclear scientist was assassinated on July 23, making him the fourth to be killed in the past two years. The regime denies that he was connected to the nuclear program, and is accusing Israel and the U.S. of carrying out an act of terrorism. If a foreign intelligence service is the culprit, then it is the latest shot fired in a wide-ranging covert campaign to delay the day when Iran finally gets a nuclear bomb.
Dariush Rezai-Nejad was about to walk into his home in Tehran when he heard his name called. He turned, and saw two men on motorcycles. Five shots were fired, striking him in the neck and hand, killing him and wounding his wife. He was a physics professor specializing in neutron transport, making him the exact type of scientist the regime would need to work on sparking a nuclear reaction. An unconfirmed Israeli report alleges that he worked at a top-secret nuclear site in northeast Tehran on nuclear detonators. Of course, the regime says he was not involved in the nuclear program.
Iranian officials are placing the blame on the U.S. and Israel, but the intelligence minister says, “Operations by foreign intelligence services generally leave signs, but we have not found any signs in this terrorist act and we have not reached any conclusion on whether foreign intelligence services are behind it.” It is possible that the minister is worried that blaming outsiders will create panic within the nuclear program and the security services.
In November 2010, two Iranian nuclear scientists were targeted when magnetized bombs were placed on their cars by men on motorcycles. Majid Shahriari, like Rezai-Nejad, was a specialist in neutron transport, and died. The second scientist, Fereydoon Abbasi, was injured in the attacks. The United Nations had blacklisted him in 2007 for his role in Iran’s nuclear programs. He was promoted to chief of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization afterwards.
In January 2010, a professor of nuclear physics at Tehran University named Masoud Alimohammadi was killed by a remotely-detonated bomb hidden on a motorcycle. However, it is less clear that this was done by enemies of the Iranian regime. He was a supporter of Ahmadinejad’s opponent in the 2009 presidential elections, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, and took part in protests after the election was stolen. It has been alleged that a top Hezbollah operative can be seen in one of the photos following the bombing.
In January 2006, one of Iran’s top nuclear scientists was working at the Isfahan site where uranium conversion takes place when he “suffocated by fumes from a faulty gas fire.” It is widely suspected that he was murdered. Covert operations to undermine Iran’s nuclear program are not limited to targeting scientists, though. There are a large number of incidents in which foreign intelligence services are suspected of playing a role.
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