Sunday, July 31, 2011

Iranian media deny slain man was connected to nuclear program

Thomas Erdbrink
July 23

TEHRAN — Iran’s semi-official state media denied reports that a man killed Saturday by unknown assailants was a physicist connected to the country’s nuclear program.

Several local Web sites had reported that the man, who was gunned down by assailants on a motorcycle, was connected to Iran’s nuclear program. But the semi-official Fars news agency said the slain man was actually a student of physics.

“During the last hours, some media had mistakenly thought Dariush Rezaienejad was one of Iran’s nuclear scientists while confirmed reports show that he is not a nuclear scientist and is a student at Khajeh Nasir University,” the agency reported.

In November, two scientists were targeted by men on motorcycles who attached explosives to their cars during Tehran’s morning rush hour. One of the scientists, Majid Shahriari, died, while the other, Fereydoun Abbasi, survived the attack and now heads the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.

At the time, Iranian authorities blamed agents of Israel and the United States for those killings, accusing them of wanting to cause chaos in the country. But leading figures in Iran’s opposition accused the government of plotting the attacks in order to spread fear in the capital, where many oppose the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In January 2010, another physicist, Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, was killed when explosives attached to a motorcycle detonated in front of his house.

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