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Killing of Iran nuclear scientist: charges fly over who's responsible

Opposition members accused the Islamic Republic of killing one of its top scientists. Meanwhile Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said that “preliminary investigations” concluded that Masoud Ali-Mohammadi was murdered by Israeli and American intelligence services.

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This undated file photo released by the semi-official Iranian Fars News Agency shows nuclear physics professor Masoud Ali-Mohammadi, who was killed after a bomb blast in front of his house, in northern Tehran's Qeytariyeh neighborhood, Iran, on Tuesday.

Fars News Agency/AP

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The assassination of an Iranian physicist in Tehran today has opened a new front in the confrontation between the government and the opposition, with both sides brandishing claims over who was responsible for his death.

Supporters of Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi claimed the victim was a critic of the government and accused the Islamic Republic of killing one of its top scientists. Meanwhile, state news outlets quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast as saying that “preliminary investigations” concluded that Masoud Ali-Mohammadi was murdered by the Israeli and American intelligence services.

 “It’s either the MKO [an anti-regime opposition group that is on a US terrorist list] or foreign intel agencies,” argued Meir Javedanfar, an Israeli-Iranian analyst and coauthor of "The Nuclear Sphynx of Tehran." “Taking into consideration the resources and capabilities required plus the potential benefits, it’s likely to be one of the Western intelligence agencies.”

“For VAVAK [Iranian intelligence] to kill him in broad daylight and with such a method would be very damaging. It makes them look compromised and helpless against the West, and scares off other people from joining the nuclear program while striking fear in the hearts of those already working for it.”

From the testimonies of colleagues and friends, a portrait of Mr. Ali-Mohammadi emerged as a quiet and studious professor who supported Mr. Mousavi but shied away from activism.

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