"There is a consensus within Iran that more access [with the IAEA], more cooperation, [means] more assassinations, more sabotage," says Mr. Mousavian. "Which means there is a great, great mistrust from the Iranian point of view to the real intention of the IAEA. They are really concerned that the IAEA has been used as an instrument for espionage, sabotage, covert action and preparing the ground for a military strike."
Iranians point to a high-profile example from the past, when UNSCOM was tasked with disarming Iraq in the 1990s. The CIA used UNSCOM for its own purposes, to create a secret parallel communications network to spy on Iraqi military moves, and in 1996 even planned a coup attempt against Saddam Hussein to coincide with an UNSCOM inspection.
Experts on the IAEA say that despite numerous past leaks by the agency, that confidential information may not have pinpointed scientists, who could have been identified by other means.
Yet Iran formally complained to the IAEA in June 2010 that "leakage of confidential information" had gone on "quite a while," and was "profoundly in violation" of Iran's Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA, which requires protection of such "secrets."
The first scientist to be killed, a senior physics professor, died in January 2010, when a bomb-rigged motorcycle blew up near his car.