An Iranian nuclear scientist has been killed and another wounded in two separate but similar attacks, according to Iranian TV.
Assailants on motorcycles attached bombs to the car of two nuclear scientists as they were driving to work in Tehran on Monday, killing one and seriously wounding the other, state television reported.
The report did not say whether the two university teachers were directly involved in the country’s highly controversial nuclear programme.
State TV swiftly blamed Israel for the attacks. At least two other Iranian nuclear scientists have been killed in recent years in what Iran has alleged is part of a covert attempt by the West to damage its nuclear programme. One of those two was killed in an attack similar to those on Monday.
The nuclear programme is at the centre of a bitter row between Iran on the one side and the U.S. and its allies on the other. A number of world powers suspect Iran is trying to make nuclear weapons, an allegation the government denies. Tehran’s refusal to limit some of its nuclear activities has brought on multiple rounds of U.N. sanctions against the country.
The assailants, who escaped, drove by their targets on motorcycles and attached the bombs as the cars were moving. They exploded shortly thereafter, the state TV report said.
The man killed on Monday was identified as Majid Shahriari, a member of the nuclear engineering faculty at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran. His wife, who was in the car with him, was wounded.
A second, separate attack in the capital seriously wounded nuclear physicist Fereidoun Abbasi. His wife was also in the car with him, and she was also wounded.
A pro-government website, mashreghnews.ir, said Dr. Abbasi held a Ph.D. in nuclear physics and was a laser expert at Iran’s Defence Ministry and one of few top Iranian specialists in nuclear isotope separation.
The site said Dr. Abbasi has long been a member of the Revolutionary Guard, the country’s most powerful military force. It said he was also a lecturer at Imam Hossein University, affiliated to the Guard.
Some Iranian media reported that Abbasi died after he was transferred to hospital. But Iran’s official IRNA news agency said he was in stable condition in the hospital.
The attacks bore close similarities to another in January that killed Tehran University professor Masoud Ali Mohammadi, a senior physics professor. He was killed when a bomb-rigged motorcycle exploded near his car as he was about to leave for work.
In 2007, state TV reported that nuclear scientist, Ardeshir Hosseinpour, died from gas poisoning. A one-week delay in the reporting of his death prompted speculation about the cause, including that Israel’s Mossad spy agency was to blame.