The United States on Wednesday forcefully condemned a car bomb attack that killed an Iranian nuclear expert in Tehran--while just as firmly repudiating any suggestion that U.S. operatives might have taken part in the assassination.
"I want to categorically deny any United States involvement in any kind of act of violence inside Iran," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told journalists at the State Department Wednesday ahead of a meeting with her Qatari counterpart.
"The United States strongly condemns this act of violence and categorically denies any involvement in the killing," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a press statement.
Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, 32, was killed in a blast from a magnetic bomb, that two men on a motorcycle attached to his Peugot 405 in north Tehran during Wednesday morning rush hour, the BBC's Frank Gardner reported.
Iran's Fars News Agency identified Ahmadi-Roshan as a chemical engineer and university lecturer. He had also served as deputy director and assistant to the head of procurement at Iran's Natanz uranium-enrichment facility, the Washington Post's Thomas Erdbrink reported.
"Whoever was targeting [Ahmadi-Roshan] clearly knew his route, his car and his timings," the BBC's Gardner noted. "The small, professionally made device was designed to kill its victim but cause only limited damage to the surroundings."
Site of car bomb blast that killed Iran nuclear scientist Jan. 12 2012. (Mehr News Agency)
No one has taken responsibility for the blast, but Iranian leaders blamed Israel's intelligence service the Mossad for the assassination.
Iran Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi "blamed the attack on 'Zionists' and 'those who claim they are against terrorism,' " Erdbrink wrote, citing the Fars News Agency.
Ahmadi-Roshan was the fourth suspected Iranian scientist to be killed over the past two years in a seemingly sophisticated assassination program targeting Iran's nuclear scientists. Past attacks also commonly targeted nuclear researchers as they were driving to work in Tehran.
On November 29, 2009, a car bomb killed an Iranian nuclear scientist and lecturer at Iran's Shahid Beheshti University, Majid Shahriyari, while he was driving in Tehran with his wife, who was wounded in the blast, Reuters reported. Another blast the same day in Tehran wounded Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, a physics professor at Iran's Imam Hossein University, who now serves as the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency.
On Jan. 12, 2010, a remote-controlled bomb killed Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, a Tehran University lecturer on particle physics. But analysts have disputed whether Ali-Mohammadi was connected to Iran's nuclear program; they've suggested that he might have been targeted for other reasons, stemming from his professed sympathies for a dissident Iranian reformist political leader.
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