Alleged Iranian nuclear scientist assassinated in Tehran

A physics professor allegedly involved in Iran's nuclear program was assassinated outside his home in Tehran. The Iranian press agency Fars denied that the scientist was involved in the country’s defense, saying he dealt with electronic engineering.

Daryoush Rezai, who was identified as the victim by the ISNA news agency, was shot by unknown gunmen on Saturday in front of his house on Bani Hashem Street in the Iranian capital. The gunmen also injured his wife during the attack.

According to the Iranian Mehr news agency, Rezai studied nuclear engineering at Tehran's Amir Kabir University and did research for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. 

Conflicting data, however, appeared immediately after the scientist’s assassination. Rezai earned a doctorate from Nasreddin Tusi University and worked in the sphere of power engineering, Fars reported.

He may be the third nuclear physicist to be killed in Iran in the last two years. Last November a top nuclear physicist was assassinated and another survived an attempt on his life.

Iran blames Israel and the US for the attacks on its nuclear scientists. The US accuses Iran of using its nuclear program as a cover-up to build atomic weapons, as enriched uranium can be used both for bombs and as an alternative energy source. The allegation has been repeatedly denied by Tehran.

Nevertheless, the UN Security Council has sanctioned Iran over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment. The US and the EU, as well as others, have imposed unilateral punitive measures against Tehran.

Rezai was involved in the Iranian nuclear program only on a scientific level, says Kian Mokhtari, a political commentator in Tehran. He added that Iranian academia would overcome the attack.

Knowledge is something you cannot kill,” he told RT. “We have a massive pool of very talented scientists who will be able to carry on in all fields: aerospace, nuclear, agriculture – anything.

Mokhtari says that Saturday’s attack may be symptomatic of the slack security in the country.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did warn a few months ago that the Iranian intelligence minister was perhaps not the right man for this job,” he said. “Perhaps the attack today goes some way in proving Mr. Ahmadinejad’s point about Mr. Heydar Moslehi.