Iran has rejected allegations that is was involved in the car bomb attack in New Delhi that injured an Israeli diplomat’s wife-an act that has sharpened tensions between the two countries whose relations were already on edge.
In Tehran, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said on Monday night that the accusations that Iran had masterminded the attack, which coincided with a failed car bombing in Georgia, were baseless. Instead, he said, they were part of Tel Aviv’s psychological warfare campaign against Iran, the country’s state-run Press TV reported.
The New Delhi attack occurred on Monday afternoon, shortly after the victim, Tal Yehoshua Koren left the embassy, where she works, to pick up her children from school. Israeli media is reporting that Ms. Koren was “moderately wounded” following the explosion of a bomb that was magnetically attached to her car, which had halted at a traffic signal. The modus operandi resembled attacks, for which Tehran has held Israel responsible, on Iranian nuclear scientists, who have been killed after motorcycle borne assassins attached magnetic explosives to their moving vehicles. Iran has also accused Israel and the United States for developing the Stuxnet virus that attacked software used for running Iran’s key nuclear plants, including the one at Bushehr and in Natanz, where uranium is enriched.
These attacks have been attributed to possible Israeli attempts to slow-down Iran’s nuclear programme. Despite repeated denials from Iran, the Israelis allege that the Iranian nuclear programme poses an existential threat to their country, as it is geared towards the manufacture of atomic weapons.
On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu quickly blamed Iran for the New Delhi bombing and the Georgia incident. "Iran is behind these attacks; it is the largest exporter of terrorism in the world," Mr. Netanyahu told a meeting of his Likud faction in parliament. He also noted that "Iran and its proxy, Hizbollah" were behind several previous "attempts to attack Israeli citizens and Jews in several countries" in recent months. By drawing Hizbollah into the ambit of suspects, the Israelis appeared to evoke memories By drawing Hizbollah in the list of suspects, the Israelis seemed to evoke memories of the assassination, four years ago of Imad Mughniyeh, a key member of the group, who had been known for his leading role in recent anti-Israeli military campaigns, including the Lebanon war of 2006.
But countering allegations that vendetta might have been the motive for Iran to strike, Mr. Mehmanparast said that the New Delhi attack on Monday could have been self-inflicted as Israel “has a serious record of criminal actions against humanity, and it is the first suspect of any terrorist operation in the world”. He added: "We categorically reject the accusations made by the Zionist (Israeli) regime. They are part of a propaganda war."
Despite adding to existing tensions and triggering a war of words, analysts are of the view that the New Delhi bombing is unlikely to become a tipping point, which could evoke a harsh military response from Israel. The Israeli daily Haaretz said that there was, presumably, an expectation in Israel’s decision making circles that Iran would mount “revenge attacks” following the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, for which Israel has been widely accused.
“Monday’s attacks were still limited enough that they didn't violate the ‘rules of the game’,” the daily observed.
Ms. Koren suffered shrapnel wounds in her back and lower body, and was operated upon on Monday night. “We have not spoken to her yet, but we understand that her condition is good and positive. She is not in any life-threatening danger, and we are waiting to speak to her,” said her brother, Ido Koren, according to Haaretz.
Security around Israelis embassies and consulates, already high, on account of the anniversary of Mughniyeh’s assassination, has been further tightened after Monday’s incidents. Staffers at Israeli diplomatic missions have been told not to use embassy vehicles until security officers have screened and cleared them for use.