Wednesday, January 13, 2010

U.S. Rejects the Iranian Regime's Claims

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The United States called "absurd" charges by Iran that it had anything to do with the Tuesday motorcycle bomb blast that killed a prominent nuclear physics professor who publicly backed opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi in the June presidential election. State media identified Masoud Ali Mohammadi as the victim of a bomb-rigged motorcycle that blew up outside his home. Mohammadi, 50, was a professor at Tehran University, which has been at the center of recent protests by student opposition supporters. Before the election, pro-reform Web sites published Mohammadi's name among a list of 240 university teachers who supported Mousavi. The government blamed the attack Tuesday on an armed Iranian opposition group under the direction of Israel and the U.S. Hard-line government supporters called at recent street rallies for the execution of the opposition leaders. Mohammadi had just left his house on his way to work when the remote-controlled explosion went off, state TV said. The blast shattered the windows of his home in northern Tehran's Qeytariyeh neighborhood and left the pavement outside smeared with blood and strewn with debris. State media blamed the killing on the West, which is locked in a tense confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program. One news Web site associated with a prominent member of the country's clerical leadership singled out the United States and Israel, saying the assassination was probably the work of an armed Iranian opposition group under the direction of Israeli agents.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner denied the charge. "Any charges of U.S. involvement are absurd," he said. Israel's Foreign Ministry had no comment. The semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi as confirming the killing and saying no one has been arrested. "Most probably, the intelligence services and elements of (Israel's) Mossad and the CIA had a hand in his assassination," the prosecutor said, according to the Web site of state TV. A spokesman for the atomic agency, Ali Shirzadian, told The Associated Press that Ali Mohammadi had no link with the agency responsible for Iran's contentious nuclear program. Iran is under pressure from the United States and its European allies, which suspect Tehran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies that. "He was not involved in the country's nuclear program," Shirzadian said of the victim. Iran denies having any intention to produce weapons and insists its nuclear work only has peaceful aims, such as energy production. Mohammadi was the author of several articles on quantum and theoretical physics in scientific journals. He also was a member of some academic associations focusing on experimental science, but he did not appear to have any high-profile role in promoting Iran's nuclear program. He received his doctorate in 1992 from the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran. Iran's suspicions for the assassination fell on exiled opposition group the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran and Israeli agents, said the news Web site Tabnak. The Tabnak site is closely associated with Mohsen Rezaei, who serves on an advisory body to the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Read more...)