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Extra: Nuclear Scientist Killed, Another Wounded in Tehran Car Bombings

29 Nov 2010 18:037 Comments

Tehran Attack Kills Leading Iranian Nuclear Scientist

Telegraph | Nov 29

Men on motorbikes approached the cars of the two men and stuck magnet-bombs on their windscreens, according to one report, though pictures from the scene showed what seemed to be bullet or shrapnel holes in the car of one of the men.

"Majid Shahriari was martyred and his wife was injured," state radio said. "Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani and his wife were both wounded."

Mr Shahriari is said to have been involved in research to analyse neutrons that could contribute to the development of a new generation of nuclear reactors, for peaceful or military purposes. The head of Iran's atomic energy organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi, confirmed he was involved in a "major project".

Dr Abbasi-Davani was said to be a laser expert and to be a specialist in nuclear isotope preparation. He was also said to work with the defence ministry and to have been a member of the elite Revolutionary Guard.


Majid Shahriari

Iranian Nuclear Scientist Killed in Tehran Bombings

Washington Post | Nov 29

The explosions, which took place in front of Shahid Behesti University, are the latest in a string of assassination attempts in which five doctors and professors have been killed in Tehran.

Iranian authorities blame foreign agents for the killings, saying they want to cause chaos in the country. But leading figures in Iran's opposition movement accuse the government of plotting the attacks in order to spread fear in the capital, where many oppose the regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

[The scientists] were parking their cars in separate locations near the university campus around 7:45 a.m. local time, accompanied by their wives. According to witnesses, each car was approached by a group of men on motorcycles, who attached explosives to the vehicles and detonated them seconds later.

Shahriari was killed instantly.

[He] was known for his involvement in a regional, non-nuclear scientific research project -- called Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East, or SESAME -- in which Israel also participated. He is the second Iranian scientist involved in that program to be assassinated in Tehran.

The SESAME project is based in Jordan, under the auspices of the United Nations. It includes scientists from several Middle Eastern countries. The involvement of both Iran and Israel makes the project unusual, since Israel is not recognized by Iran and has no ties to the Islamic republic. Palestinian scientists also participate.

In January, another scientist involved in the SESAME project, Massoud Ali Mohammadi, was killed in Tehran when a bomb attached to a motorcycle exploded in front of his house.


Fereydoun Abbasi Davani

Reports: Iran Attack Targeted Nuclear Scientist

CNN | Nov 29

A United Nations resolution cited Abbasi as a "nuclear scientist," Press TV said, which suggests that the "perpetrators behind the assassination could be traced through those who included the professor's name in the UN resolution."

The 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.

Both of the professors targeted on Monday were members of the Basij, Iran's volunteer paramilitary group, [Fars] news agency said.

Iran Accuses CIA, Mossad of Nuke Scientist Killing

AFP | Nov 29

"The Zionist regime this time shed the blood of university professor Dr. Majid Shahriari to curb Iran's progress," the office of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a statement posted on its website.

Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said the "Mossad and the CIA are the enemies of Iranians" whose "desperate terrorist act against the two academics shows their weakness and inferiority."

Bomb Kills Iranian Nuclear Scientist

New York Times | Nov 29

At a news conference, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also said that "undoubtedly the hand of the Zionist regime and Western governments is involved" in the killing, news reports said, but did not identify those governments by name.

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.

The pro-government mashreghnews.ir Web site said Mr. Abbasi had a doctorate in nuclear physics and described him in terms that suggested he was closely associated with the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. [Along with his Shahid Beheshti faculty position, the website identified him as the dean of the physics department at Imam Hossein University in Tehran. The public institution is partly funded by the Revolutionary Guards, which effectively controls much of its research activity.]

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

Iran's nuclear chief, Mr. Salehi, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, told the semiofficial IRNA news agency on Monday that Mr. Shahriari "was my student and he worked with the Atomic Energy Organization."

"Don't play with fire," he warned Western powers and their allies. "The patience of the Iranian people has its limits. If our patience runs out, you will suffer the consequences."

Iran Accuses Mossad, CIA for Assassination of Nuclear Scientist

Xinhua | Nov 29

Talking to [...] reporters after the incidents, Tehran Police Chief Commander Hossein Sajedi Nia said that no suspects have been arrested so far and no group has claimed responsibility for the acts.

The wives of the two academics were [on] the staff of Tehran Shahid Beheshti University too, according to the police chief.

related reading Iran's Nuclear Program (Tehran Bureau)

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I am not for Iran getting Nucs but at the same time its infuriating to see whoever did, walks away from killing people in the broad day light in the middle of city.
This points out to the huge security gaps in the system.

Persiantraveler / November 30, 2010 12:33 AM

These bombings are conducted by the Islamic Republic's IRGC Qods force's assassination teams using the Lebanese Hezbollah.
It's very likely that these scientists knew too much about the nuclear bomb projects and regime was scared of potentially leaking intelligence to outside.

Cyrus / November 30, 2010 2:14 AM

sounds like an inside job...

ahvaz / November 30, 2010 4:13 AM

Persian traveler,

Everyday in the U.S. several people are killed in broad daylight with no one ever caught and held responsible.

I'm not saying that's a good thing, it's just a fact of life and no amount of security will change that.

But it is widely been reported that based on the past academic history of these scientists, they knew very little the IRI nuclear program.

muhammad billy bob / November 30, 2010 10:25 AM

this is the sort of typical Israel's behavior..
we have seen it in uncountable number in all over the world.. not just in region.. and Israel refuge this when they are fail politically...
one of the agendas may be keeping the war rhetoric live and hot in US mainstream politics in which political News is dominated by Mass Misinforming Media..


Shame on You, it is better for you to keep silent..

Observer / November 30, 2010 12:08 PM

I think it wont really matter whether, as cyrus thinks, its was an inside job or as other think, its was a hit job by CIA, Musad, MKO...etc.
The current administration in Iran is going to take advantage of the situation to tell people that Iran is under threat and then they further clamp down on society by creating an even more macabre police society. Meantime they are gonna push ahead with their nuclear program even faster.
Remember that upcoming talk in Geneva is going to be a showdown for IR to say its scientists are being assassinated ...etc and would try to make the issue a more western political hegemony issue than anything else.
At any case, even if Israel was behind this recent incidence and they did a way with one scientist, at the end of the day IR is going to use this for its best interests.

Persiantraveler / November 30, 2010 11:06 PM

SESAME is/was a covert operation to help identify the top leading scientist in the middles east that work on nuclear, nuclear related, or wmd projects being developed by terrorist nations/states. Excellent cover to identify the appropriate targets. Keep up the good work Mossad and CIA.

Benjamin Gufford / December 1, 2010 12:32 AM