A university lecturer and nuclear scientist has been killed in a car explosion in Tehran.
Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, an academic who also worked at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, and another unidentified person were killed in the attack.
The blast happened after a motorcyclist stuck an apparent bomb to the car.
Several Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated in recent years, with Iran blaming Israel and the US.
Both countries deny the accusations.
The BBC’s Security Correspondent Gordon Corera is following the story.
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Marco Werman: I am Marco Werman. This is The World. Iran says the assassination of a scientist in Tehran today will not stop progress on the country’s nuclear program. The scientist was identified as 32 year old Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, a supervisor at Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility. He was reportedly killed after someone on a passing motorcycle attached a bomb to his car with a magnet. The blast is also said to have killed the scientist’s driver. The BBC’s Security Correspondent Gordon Corera is following the story. He says the man who was killed may have had a unique role at the Natanz nuclear plant.
Gordon Corera: He appears to have been a specialist in a particular type of technique that’s used involving gas permeation which is part of the enrichment process and that seems to signify that he had some kind of specialist expertise in enrichment even though he was fairly young, in his early 30s. That would most likely be why he was targeted.
Werman: Who were the suspects in this killing?
Corera: Well, I think the assumption in a lot of quarters will be that this is the work of the Israeli spy agency, the Mossad. Now, of course they won’t confirm that. No one knows for sure. The Iranians have pointed the finger at the Israelis, also saying that the Americans and perhaps even the British, they’ve said in the past, might have been involved as well. But I think the assumption is always that the Israelis are behind this kind of activity. We can’t be sure about that. They do have a track record, it’s thought. If you go back even to the Iraqi nuclear program, late ’70s, they were doing these kind of covert actions to try and disrupt it. So, it’s something they have a tradition of doing, if you like. People in Israel won’t openly acknowledge it but they do talk about how they’re not displeased to see this kind of act take place.
Werman: Gordon, you’ve spoken with nuclear experts about the assassination. What do they make of it? I mean, is there a belief that you can actually stop a nuclear program by taking out scientists one by one?
Corera: No, I don’t think there is a belief in many quarters that you can stop it entirely. I think a lot of the covert campaign that’s been going on appears to be about delay. I think the hope is that whether it’s the killing of scientists, whether it’s the Stuxnet virus which sabotaged the centrifuges at Natanz, whether it’s some of the explosions that have taken place which are slightly mysterious, that these will introduce delay. Basically, all you can do is really buy time and, in that time, the hope is that perhaps sanctions, internal social, economic, political dynamics together those force a change of heart, a change of decision in Iran’s leadership in terms of where they want to go with the nuclear program. So, it’s essentially about buying time. I think it’s difficult to see that covert action can actually do any more than that; and there are risks too. I think it’s fair to say that, so far, Iran has been relatively restrained in its response, but at some point it may seek to strike back in some way and that could escalate the crisis in turn.
Werman: The BBC’s Security Correspondent Gordon Corera speaking with us from London. By the way, you can find a map of Iran’s key nuclear sites; it’s at theworld.org.
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