On Wednesday, Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan was tooling along in his car, heading for the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, where nothing but the most peaceful imaginable uses for uranium are contemplated – it’s enriched with love.
Someone drove up alongside his car on a motorcycle and accidentally dropped the magnetic bomb he was carrying. The bomb stuck itself to Roshan’s car, in one of those freak accidents that make magnetic bombs almost as hazardous to drivers as cell phones, and suddenly Iran was short one nuclear scientist. A pedestrian was also killed in the explosion.
Iran goes through nuclear scientists about as fast as Hogwart’s burns through Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers. Four of them have been killed in the past four years, with a magnetic bomb used in at least one previous case. They don’t have many scientists with the necessary skills for nuclear weapons development… ah, excuse me, I meant to say “peaceful nuclear energy research”… so these killings have put a real crimp in their program.
As related by the Voice of America, U.S. authorities strenuously denied any role in the latest killing:
White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said the United States had “absolutely nothing to do” with the blast that killed Mostafa Ahmadi Rosha, and said the U.S. strongly condemns the attack and all acts of violence.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeated the White House denial.
“I want to categorically deny any United States involvement in any kind of act of violence inside Iran.”
The White House and State Department can breathe easy, because Iran is pretty sure somebody else is behind it. They sent a letter to the United Nations decrying “such cruel, inhumane, and criminal acts of terrorism,” and pointed an accusing finger towards Israel, as noted by the Jerusalem Post:
Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said on Wednesday the country’s nuclear path will not change, after Tehran accused Israel of killing one of its nuclear scientists in a “heinous act”.
The agency said in a statement that the disputed nuclear program, which Iran says is for energy and the West says aims to make atomic weapons, would carry on despite international pressure, Iran’s Arabic language al Alam TV reported.
“We will continue our (nuclear) path without any doubt … Our path is irreversible,” said the statement quoted by the television channel.
“The heinous acts of America and the criminal Zionist regime (Israel) will not disrupt our glorious path and Iran will firmly continue this path with no doubt,” the statement said.
“The more you kill us, the more our nation will become awakened as our late leader of the Islamic revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had said.”
More organs of the Iranian government than just the Atomic Energy Organization have been clearing their throats. The security apparatus issued a serious threat:
Iran’s response to the assassination of a nuclear scientist in Iran Wednesday will be harsh and reach beyond borders, a website aligned with the regime in Tehran quoted a senior security source as saying Thursday.
Those who gave the order for the assassination, the source was quoted by “RajaNews” as saying, “will never feel safe,” adding that Iran has a cross-border, cross-regional strategy for striking back. He said that the West and Israel were behind the attacks in Iran.
The official added that Tehran has entered “a new era of intelligence operations against its enemies.”
Meanwhile, Iran’s president and vice-president played the victim:
In Cuba Wednesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran had done nothing to warrant enmity from its enemies but said nothing about the bomb attack.
Ahmadinejad was to meet with Cuban President Raul Castro later, but shortly after arrival in the Cuban capital he told students in veiled remarks at the University of Havana that Iran was being “punished” for no good reason.
“Have we assaulted someone? Have we wanted more than we should have? Never, never. We have only asked to speak about and establish justice,” Ahmadinejad said.
Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi, in charge while Ahmadinejad travels, told Iranian state television “this terrorist act was carried out by agents of the Zionist regime (Israel) and by those who claim to be combating terrorism (the United States) with the aim of stopping our scientists from serving” Iran.
CNN reports the Israelis have also denied involvement in the bomb attack, although it sounds like their heart wasn’t really in it, because the denial was issued on Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai’s Facebook page: “I have no idea who targeted the Iranian scientist but I certainly don’t shed a tear.” Mordechai resisted the temptation to accompany this statement with a photo of a kitten dressed up as an Iranian nuclear scientist, as is normally the custom with Facebook posts.
Iran-watchers told CNN it was likely the Iranian resistance also played some role in the bombing:
“The most likely contender among people who are following this is that the Israelis are doing it, possibly in cooperation with the Iranian mujahedin,” said Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian-American Council and author of the book “A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran.”
“There’s almost no downside for Israel,” he said. The killings “take out nuclear assets and embarrass Iran” by showing that the regime can’t prevent such attacks, Parsi said. And “if Iran retaliates with a violent act, then Israel can point to it as a reason to take military action against the regime.”
Michael Rubin, resident scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, agrees that Israeli involvement is the most “plausible” scenario. And Mark Hibbs, senior associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, also said the way the attacks took place “would be consistent” with the possibility of Israel acting with cooperation inside Iran.
If Israel was indeed involved, the Iranians are going to have to come up with a better threat than promising they will “never feel safe.” They never have.