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Another Iranian nuclear scientist killed: part of 'covert war'?

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Why doesn't Iran take such cases to the UN?

Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has said Iran would respond to threats with threats, and on Monday stated the regime would not be deterred by sanctions.

"The [Western & Israeli] hegemonistic bloc is making efforts to sap the resolve of the people and officials and force them off the scene through making them afraid of sanctions," Ayatollah Khamenei said, according to a translation by Mehr News. "Weakness and desperation have now taken the place of [their] delusions of grandeur."

The US and Israel have said little to dispel the perception – and angry claims from Tehran – that they have been behind a number of setbacks to Iran's nuclear and missile programs in recent years, including the Stuxnet computer virus, killings of scientists, and unexplained explosions at missile and industrial facilities.

Still, Ansari notes a "surprising" difference between how Iran has handled past assassinations on the streets of Tehran and how Iran reacted in October when the US Department of Justice and the FBI accused the Revolutionary Guard Qods Force of recruiting a dual US-Iranian citizen of plotting to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington.

"The Iranian [mission] at the UN within 24 hours issued a formal protest ... to protest their innocence" in that case, notes Ansari, author of the 2006 book "Confronting Iran: The failure of American foreign policy and the next conflict in the Middle East."

"In this case they have never protested to the UN that a foreign power is busy assassinating its citizens on its territory, and they never pursued it, apart from the occasional rhetoric that says, 'This is Mossad,' " says Ansari.

"If they have the genuine belief that it is a foreign intelligence agency doing this – which it may well be – then they need to make a much bigger deal than this," says Ansari.

Two killed scientists were sympathetic to Green Movement

Besides their technical expertise, he adds, two of the killed scientists had known sympathies to Iran's opposition Green Movement. Roshan's political views are not yet known.

"[The 'covert war' argument] is very convenient, because they don't have to prove anything," adds Ansari. "How do we know, for instance, that when a Revolutionary Guard base gets blown up, that it's not incompetence going on in there? It's very convenient for them to say, 'This is sabotage.' "

Senior Iranian officials in the past have accused inspectors of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog – the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – of disclosing the names of Iranian scientists to hostile intelligence agencies, thereby setting them up to be killed.

Neither the US nor Israel comment officially on the blasts and killings inside Iran. But on Tuesday, Israel's chief of staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz reportedly told a closed-door Knesset panel that more "unnatural" events would take place.

"For Iran, 2012 is a critical year in combining the continuation of its nuclearization, internal changes in the Iranian leadership, continuing and growing pressure from the international community and things which take place in an unnatural manner," Israeli media quoted Gantz as saying.

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