ASSAILANTS on motorcycles yesterday attached bombs to the cars of two nuclear scientists as they drove to work in Tehran, killing one and wounding the other.
Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said the killed scientist, Majid Shahriari, was involved in a major project at his agency.
Iranian media reported that the wounded scientist, Fereidoun Abbasi, was a laser expert at the Defence Ministry and one of the country’s few specialists in nuclear isotope separation.
The men were travelling with their wives, who were wounded in the separate attacks launched while their cars were moving.
At least two other Iranian nuclear scientists have been killed in recent years in what Iran has alleged is part of a covert attempt by the West to damage its nuclear program. One of those two was killed in an attack similar to those yesterday.
Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar accused the US and Israeli intelligence services, the CIA and Mossad, of being responsible for the attack.
“Mossad and the CIA are the enemies of Iranians and always seek to hurt this nation. They particularly want to stop our scientific progress,” he said.
“The desperate terrorist act against the two academics shows their weakness and inferiority.”
Mr Salehi issued a warning at Professor Abbasi’s hospital bedside. “Don’t play with fire. The patience of the Iranian nation has limits. If it runs out of patience, bad consequences will await enemies,” he told the official news agency IRNA.
Washington has strongly denied allegations of links to previous attacks.
There are several armed groups that oppose Iran’s ruling clerics, but it is unclear whether they could have carried out the apparently co-ordinated bombings in the capital.
Professor Shahriari was a member of the nuclear engineering faculty at Shahid Beheshti University.
Mr Salehi said Professor Shahriari had been one of his students and his death was a big loss. “The enemy took our dearest flower, but must know that this nation, through resistance and all its might, will make efforts to remove problems and achieve its desires,” he said.
A pro-government website, mashreghnews.ir, said Professor Abbasi was a member of the Revolutionary Guard.
The attacks bore close similarities to another in January that killed Tehran University physics professor Masoud Ali Mohammadi.
He was killed when a bomb-rigged motorcycle exploded near his car as he was about to leave for work.
In 2007, state TV reported that nuclear scientist Ardeshir Hosseinpour died from gas poisoning. A week-long delay in the reporting of his death prompted speculation that Mossad was to blame.
The attacks follow the release of internal US diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks, including several that vividly detail Arab fears over Iran’s nuclear program.