Entries in Nuclear Scientists (2)


Did Iran Kill One of Its Own Nuclear Scientists?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Iranian dissidents have long suspected that the country's Islamist regime has used the cover of its not-so-covert war with Israel to crack down on internal opponents, and that a leading Iranian nuclear scientist whose death was blamed on Mossad might really have been killed by his own government.

Now a prominent opposition blogger based in London says that discrepancies in the recent trial and execution of the "Israeli spy" officially charged with killing scientist Masoud Ali Mohammadi are yet more evidence that Iranian intelligence agents may have been the real assassins.

Mohammadi, a nuclear physicist, died in January 2010 when a motorcycle parked outside his house was detonated by remote control when he walked past.

A half-dozen scientists and officials linked to the nation's nuclear and long-range missile programs have died under suspicious circumstances since 2010, deaths the Iranian regime usually blames on Israel, the U.S., and the U.K. When Mohammadi died, the regime immediately blamed his murder on a "triangle of wickedness," meaning the U.S., Israel and their "hired agents."

"Zionists did it," said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "They hate us and they don't want us to progress." Ali Larjani, chairman of the Iranian parliament, said the government had "clear information that the intelligence regime of the Zionist regime and the CIA wanted to implement terrorist acts."

But Western intelligence agencies had conflicting information about whether Mohammadi, a particle physicist, was really contributing to the nuclear program. Iranian dissidents, meanwhile, said Mohammadi had been killed by the regime because he was a supporter of reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, whom many believe actually won the 2009 Iranian presidential election before vote-tampering handed the victory to Ahmadinejad. A German-based opposition group released a photo of an alleged Arab hitman who had supposedly carried out Mohammadi's assassination on regime orders.

At Mohammadi's funeral, hundreds of regime loyalists waving anti-Israel banners packed the procession, where they clashed with supporters of Mousavi's Green Movement.

More than two years later, on May 15, 2012, the Iranian government executed 24-year-old Majid Jamali Fashi, who had been convicted of assassinating Mohammadi.

Iranian authorities claimed that Fashi, 24, was recruited and trained by Mossad and was paid $120,000 to kill Mohammadi. In January 2011, Iranian media had broadcast Fashi's confession, in which he said he "received different training including chasing, running, counter-chasing and techniques for planting bombs in a car" while in Tel Aviv. Fashi also confessed to receiving forged travel documents in Azerbaijan to travel to Israel, Iran's Press TV reported.

In a blog post Monday, however, London-based dissident Potkin Azarmehr pointed out that the Israeli passport displayed by Iranian television was stamped 2003, when Fashi was 15 years old, but bore the photo of a hirsute man in his 20s who is not looking directly into the camera. "No passport will be issued with such a picture, anywhere in the world," wrote Azarmehr. "You need a headshot where you are open-eyed AND looking into the camera."

Azarmehr believes that Fashi is not a Mossad agent and may never have been executed. In earlier posts, Azarmehr noted that Fashi showed no fear in a video allegedly recorded right before his execution, and that the only official photo taken of him after his hanging shows him from far away. The Iranian regime is not squeamish about showing clear pictures of convicts after their executions.

Other news outlets that have reported Azarmehr's suspicions, however, have focused on the alleged forgery of the passport. The Dubai-based news channel al-Arabiya claims that the passport displayed on Iranian television has a misplaced passport number and design features that indicate it dates from the 1990s. One blogger found a facsimile of an Israeli passport with the same dates and city of origin on Wikipedia and alleges that Fashi's passport is simply a crude copy. All the blacked-out areas on the Wikipedia image appear as blanks on Fashi's alleged passport.

The U.S. and the U.K. have denied any involvement in the deaths of Iranian nuclear scientists, while the Israeli government has declined to comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Iran Increases Security for Nuclear Scientists Following Assassination

ABC/ Donna Svennevik(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Iran is giving its nuclear scientists more security following the assassination of scientist Mustafa Ahmadi Roshan last week, a top Iranian official said Tuesday. First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi said the new security included “remarkable measures.”

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad issued orders to improve the protection of the country’s nuclear scientists, Rahimi said during a memorial for the “martyrs of Iran’s nuclear industry,” according to Iranian news outlets. Roshan was a chemical engineer who worked at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility.

“Some remarkable measures have been taken in this regard and all people active in the nuclear sector have come under a special protection plan according to the very same order,” the semi-official Fars news agency quoted Rahimi saying.

Four scientists linked to Iran’s nuclear infrastructure have been killed in the past two years. Another, Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, was targeted in late 2010 but survived and now heads the country’s atomic agency.

Iran says it has identified suspects behind Roshan’s death, its intelligence minister Heidar Moslehi on Sunday vowed a “crushing response” directed against the United States, United Kingdom and Israel.

After Roshan was killed last Wednesday by a magnetic bomb attached to his car by a motorcyclist, Iran immediately accused Israel and the U.S. of being behind the plot -- and added the UK as an accomplice later -- and said they had documents to prove Mossad and CIA involvement. American officials vehemently denied the accusation while Israeli officials remained mum.

According to the Tehran Times, Iran’s Minister of Science, Research and Technology announced Monday that some 1,300 university students had changed majors to nuclear physics and engineering in support of the country’s nuclear program.

At Sharif University, official Mehrdad Bazrpash reportedly said 300 had, “announced their readiness to work in the nuclear industry promising to rob the enemies of sleep.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio