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Tehran Bombing Latest in Attacks on Iran’s Nuclear Scientists, Program

January 12, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
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JEFFREY BROWN: And we turn to the covert campaign of assassinations and sabotage against Iran’s nuclear program.

Pieces of broken glass and debris littered the pavement Wednesday at the scene of a bombing in Tehran. State TV reported two attackers on motorcycle stuck a magnetic bomb on the car of a nuclear scientist, then drove on. The explosion, moments later, killed 32-year-old Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan and his driver.

The Iranian government called it a terrorist attack, blaming Israel and the United States.

But, in Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rejected the charge.

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: I want to categorically deny any United States involvement in any kind of act of violence inside Iran.

JEFFREY BROWN: In fact, the bombing was the latest in a string of attacks in Iran targeting top nuclear officials. Two years ago, a nuclear physics professor was killed when a bomb strapped to a motorcycle exploded outside his home. Several months after that, a pair of car bombings killed one nuclear scientist and wounded another while they were driving to work. In both cases, Iranian officials pinned the deaths on the U.S. and Israel.

MOHAMMAD REZA RAHIMI, Iranian first vice president: So-called advocates of fighting terrorism have picked up weapons. And we will remove this mask and devilish cover from their face and reveal their identity.

JEFFREY BROWN: In addition to attacks on scientists, Iran’s nuclear program has been hit by other acts of sabotage and what might have been accidents.

In 2010, computers at Iranian nuclear facilities were infected by the so-called Stuxnet virus. It disrupted controls on centrifuges being used to enrich uranium. And this past November, an explosion destroyed part of a missile testing site near the town of Bid Kaneh. Iranian officials called it an accident.

Through it all, Tehran has moved forward with its nuclear ambitions, while rejecting U.S. charges that its goal is nuclear weapons. Just this week, the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that Iran has begun enriching uranium at a second site near the city of Qom.

And, today, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, insisted the Islamic republic will continue on that path. He also vowed to punish those who carried out Wednesday’s bombing and those behind it.