Der Spiegel reports:
One atomic researcher after the other has died in a series of recent murders in Iran. Is Israel’s Mossad trying to sabotage the construction of a nuclear bomb with the attacks? Officials in Jerusalem aren’t denying anything. Israeli military generals are even more hawkish, and their calls for air strikes on Iran are growing louder.
“Israel is not responding,” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said earlier this week when asked if his country had been involved in the latest slaying of an Iranian nuclear scientist. It didn’t exactly sound like a denial, and the smile on his face suggested Israel isn’t too bothered by suspicions that it is responsible for a series of murders of physicists involved in the controversial Iranian nuclear program.
There is little doubt in the shadowy world of intelligence agencies that Israel is behind the assassination of Darioush Rezaei. “That was the first serious action taken by the new Mossad chief Tamir Pardo,” an Israeli intelligence source told SPIEGEL ONLINE.
On July 23, Rezaei became the latest victim in a mysterious series of attacks over the past 20 months which has seen the virtual decimation of the Islamic republic’s elite physicists. The 35-year-old died after being shot in the throat in front of his daughter’s kindergarten in east Tehran. The Iranian press has reported that the two alleged perpetrators in the attack escaped on a motorcycle.
So who was the man who was shot in front of his wife and daughter? Israeli media reported the scientist, who had a PhD in physics, was working on the development of a trigger for a nuclear warhead. The physicist had apparently been seen daily at a nuclear research center in northern Tehran. An official from a member nation of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency later told the Associated Press that Rezaei had participated in developing high-voltage switches, a key component in setting off the explosions needed to trigger a nuclear warhead.
The fact that Rezaei’s death has struck a nerve in Iran is apparent in the official reaction to the killing. Kazem Jalali, the head of the Iranian parliament’s national security committee, said the murder of Iranian physicists showed that the United States and Israel are “desperate” in the face of Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.