Move over Bering Sea crab fishermen. There is a new “Most Dangerous Job in the World” – scientist in the Iranian nuclear weapons program. The assassination in January was the fourth in two years.
This is another successful use of a motorcycle team to attach a small but effective explosive device to a car trapped in traffic with immediate initiation. This isn’t suicide bombing. It is a very simple and successful technique that allows for reliable access to the target vehicle in traffic, positive target ID, limited collateral damage, and excellent egress and escape.
Executive protection is a thinking process that requires adaptable responses to changing conditions. Always be prepared to see new threats.
LONDON — A bomber on a motorcycle killed a scientist from Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment site and his bodyguard-driver on Wednesday during the morning commute in Tehran, Iranian media reported, in an assassination that could further elevate international tensions over the Iranian nuclear program and stoke the country’s growing anti-Western belligerence.
It was the fourth such attack reported in two years and, as after the previous episodes, Iranian officials accused the United States and Israel of responsibility. The White House condemned the attack and denied any responsibility. The official reaction in Israel appeared to be more cryptic.
Iranian news accounts said the suspected assassin had attached a magnetized explosive device to the scientist’s car and escaped during the rush hour in northern Tehran. News photographs from the scene showed a car, a Peugeot 405, draped in a pale blue tarp being lifted onto a truck. Some photographs published by Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency showed what it said was the body of the scientist still inside the car. The head was covered with a white cloth.
The scientist was identified as Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, 32, a professor at a technical university in Tehran, and a department supervisor at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant — one of two known sites where Western leaders suspect Iranian scientists are advancing toward the creation of a nuclear weapon.
The Mehr news agency said the explosion took place on Gol Nabi street, on the scientist’s route to work, at 8:20 a.m. The news agency said he was employed at the Natanz site as the director of commercial affairs.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran expresses its deep concern over, and lodges it strong condemnation of, such cruel, inhumane and criminal acts of terrorism against the Iranian scientists,” Iran’s United Nations ambassador, Mohammad Khazaee, wrote in a letter sent to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other U.N. officials. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but is facing a growing battery of international sanctions intended to force it to halt its enrichment program and negotiate with the West. On Jan. 23, European Union foreign ministers are to discuss a possible oil export embargo, adding further pressure.
Despite those pressures, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said it would not be diverted from its pursuit of nuclear technology. “America and Israel’s heinous act will not change the course of the Iranian nation,” it said in a statement quoted by Reuters.
The semiofficial Fars news agency, which has close links to the powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps, said the Wednesday bombing resembled the methods used in attacks in November 2010 against two other nuclear specialists — Majid Shahriari, who was killed, and Fereydoon Abbasi, who survived and is now in charge of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.
Almost exactly two years ago in January 2010, a physics professor, Massoud Ali Mohammadi, was also assassinated in Tehran.
Iran blamed Israel and the United States for the attacks in 2010, and the latest killing is bound to deepen an embattled mood in Tehran as the country’s divided leaders approach parliamentary elections in March. News of the blast emerged quickly on Iran’s state-run media.
“The bomb was a magnetic one and the same as the ones previously used for the assassination of the scientists and is the work of the Zionists,” Fars quoted Tehran’s deputy governor, Safar Ali Baratlou, as saying, reflecting a suspicion that the West and its allies were waging a covert war.
In Washington, Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council, said in reaction to the attack: “The United States had absolutely nothing to do with this. We strongly condemn all acts of violence, including acts of violence like what is being reported today.”
In Israel, which regards Iran as its most significant security threat, the denial was much more vague. Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the Israeli military spokesman, wrote on his Facebook page that “I don’t know who took revenge on the Iranian scientist, but I am definitely not shedding a tear,” Agence France-Presse reported.
Theodore Karasik, a security expert at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai, said the assassination fit a pattern over the past two years of covert operations by the West and its allies to “degrade and delay” Iran’s nuclear program.
In a telephone interview, Mr. Karasik said other elements of the Western campaign included the deployment of a computer worm known as Stuxnet and the sale of doctored computer software to hamper the enrichment program.
He said magnetic bombs were used in covert operations, describing them as “clean, easy and efficient.”
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