Monday, November 29, 2010

Bomb Kills Iranian Nuclear Scientist in Tehran

Via -

Unidentified assailants riding motorcycles launched bomb attacks early on Monday against two Iranian nuclear physicists here, killing one of them and prompting accusations by Iran that the United States and Israel were behind the episode.

At a news conference here, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that “undoubtedly the hand of the Zionist regime and Western governments is involved” in the killing but did not identify those governments by name. The killing led Iran’s nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, to warn the West and its allies not to “play with fire.” Both Mr. Salehi and Mr. Ahmadinejad vowed that Tehran would not be deterred from expanding its nuclear project.

But Mr. Ahmadinejad publicly acknowledged, apparently for the first time, that Iran’s nuclear program had recently been disrupted by a malicious computer software that attacked its centrifuges. “They succeeded in creating problems for a limited number of our centrifuges with the software they had installed in electronic parts,” he said at the news conference.

Iranian officials had previously acknowledged unspecified problems with Iran’s centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium that can be used for peaceful energy generation or atomic weapons. But the Iranians had always denied the problems were caused by malicious computer code.

A computer program known as Stuxnet is believed to have struck Iran over the summer. Experts said that the program, which is precisely calibrated to send nuclear centrifuges wildly out of control, was likely developed by a state government.


The dead scientist was identified as Majid Shahriari, a physics professor at Shahid Beheshti University in northern Tehran. He was killed and his wife was injured when a bomb that had been attached to his car was detonated remotely. A second professor at the same university, Fereydoon Abbasi, was injured in a separate, simultaneous attack. His wife was also hurt.

Iranian media reports said the motorcycle attackers had attached the bombs to the professors’ cars and detonated them from a distance. The attackers escaped. According to The Associated Press, the bombs were attached to both cars while they were moving.


Some unofficial Iranian media reports, controlled by hardliners, described Mr. Abbasi as a loyalist supporter of the Iranian regime involved in nuclear research at the Defense Ministry and said both scientists were from the nuclear engineering department of Shahid Beheshti University.


The [UN] resolution, from March 2007, identifies Abbasi as one of several people "involved in nuclear or ballistic missile activities" in Iran. It does not call him a "nuclear scientist" but describes him as a scientist for the Senior Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics who has links to the Institute of Applied Physics.

The European Union froze Abbasi's assets last month as it imposed additional sanctions on Iran.

The United Nations resolution says Abbasi has worked closely with another scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, who led the Physics Research Center in Iran. The International Atomic Energy Agency has sought to interview Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, but Iran has declined to allow that, the resolution says.

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