Iranian nuclear scientist assassinated in Tehran

Second scientist injured in similar attack:

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

The dead scientist was identified as Majid Shahriari, a physics professor at Shahid Beheshti University in northern Tehran, whose wife was injured when a bomb 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 attackers attached bombs to the cars of both academics and detonated them from a distance.

The semi-official Fars news agency declared: “The United States and the Zionist regime perpetrated a terrorist attack on two professors at Shahid Beheshti university.”

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.

Mr. Shahriari was said in some reports to have taught at the Supreme National Defense University, run by the Iranian Army.

These incidents come in the wake of related information divulged in the latest Wikileaks data dump:

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has repeatedly urged the United States to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear programme, according to leaked US diplomatic cables that describe how other Arab allies have secretly agitated for military action against Tehran.

The revelations, in secret memos from US embassies across the Middle East, expose behind-the-scenes pressures in the scramble to contain the Islamic Republic, which the US, Arab states and Israel suspect is close to acquiring nuclear weapons. Bombing Iranian nuclear facilities has hitherto been viewed as a desperate last resort that could ignite a far wider war.

The Saudi king was recorded as having “frequently exhorted the US to attack Iran to put an end to its nuclear weapons programme”, one cable stated. “He told you [Americans] to cut off the head of the snake,” the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir said, according to a report on Abdullah’s meeting with the US general David Petraeus in April 2008.

Were we involved in these killings?  Or was it Israel?  Or were the Saudis to blame?  Or perhaps other Arab countries?  And don’t you think those still involved in Iran’s nuclear program are looking over their shoulders?

We live in fascinating times.

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