TEHRAN (AFP) – Parliament speaker Ali Larijani, Iran’s former chief nuclear negotiator, accused US President Barack Obama of state terrorism over the killing in Tehran of a leading atomic scientist.
In an angry address to Iran’s conservative-dominated parliament, Larijani reiterated Iranian charges that the US Central Intelligence Agency and Israel’s Mossad were behind the scientist’s death in a bombing on Tuesday.
“Such filthy actions are easy to carry out but such adventurism will do you no good,” the ISNA news agency quoted Larijani as saying in reference to Obama.
“You have practically promoted acts of terrorism,” he said.
“This black spot will be recorded in the dossier of US crimes against the Iranian nation.”
Massoud Ali Mohammadi, a particle physics professor at prestigious Tehran University, was killed by a bomb strapped to a motorcycle in the capital’s well-to-do northern suburbs.
Neither the police nor the intelligence services have yet reported any leads in their investigation into the murder but Larijani blamed the CIA and Mossad.
“We had received clear information a few days before (the assassination) that the (intelligence) service of the Zionist regime, with the cooperation of the CIA, were seeking to carry out a terrorist act in Tehran,” Larijani said.
“They (the Israeli and US intelligence agencies) might have thought that, in the face of certain internal disputes, there was an opportunity to take this action and that they could cause friction among academics and harm the country’s nuclear research work,” Larijani added.
Similar allegations by other Iranian officials of US involvement in the attack have been dismissed out of hand by Washington.
“Charges of US involvement are absurd,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters on Tuesday.
Islamist students and the volunteer Basij militia condemned the killing of Ali Mohammadi, whom they described as “a Basiji professor.”
But his name appeared on a list of academics backing opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi in a disputed June 12 presidential election, which gave hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a second term.
The rare assassination came as the government faced the most sustained period of protest since the revolution of 1979, with hundreds of thousands taking to the streets of Tehran after the election.
The opposition charges the vote was massively rigged in Ahmadinejad’s favour. For the past six months, it has been holding anti-government protests at every opportunity, many of which have been broken up by police who have arrested hundreds of demonstrators.
The daylight killing also came amid an increasingly bitter standoff between Iran and world powers over Tehran’s controversial nuclear programme, which the West suspects is cover for a weapons drive.
Larijani slammed Obama for “rashly resorting to a monarchist group which has no credibility to cover such an operation.”
“This is a new disgrace for Mr Obama,” he said.
“It seems you are entertained by this group’s statement… How come you have made your country a den for terrorists?”
Larijani was alluding to a group called Takavaran Tondar which claimed responsibility for the bombing on its website.
But according to the Rahesabz.net opposition website, the group later disavowed the claim and accused Iranian intelligence agents of “plotting a hoax.”
Tehran officials have repeatedly accused the United States and Israel of seeking to foment unrest in Iran. The two countries have never ruled out a military strike to thwart Iran’s nuclear programme.
“You are very pitiful, Mr Obama,” Larijani said.
“After all those claims of humanitarianism and a change of policy, today all that is left standing is the same old war-mongering and acts of terrorism.”
He was alluding to Obama’s pledge on taking office last year to adopt a new policy of engagement with Iran, in contrast with the “axis of evil” rhetoric of his predecessor George W. Bush.
Larijani insisted that the scientist’s murder would have no impact on Iran’s nuclear programme.
“Now they seek to eliminate nuclear scientists. You will see that these terrorist actions will achieve nothing and the Iranian nation will safeguard its nuclear success.”
Iran has ignored repeated UN Security Council ultimatums to suspend uranium enrichment, the sensitive process which makes nuclear fuel but in highly extended form can also produce the fissile core of an atomic bomb.
US envoy advises sanctions boost against Iran
It is already under three sets of UN sanctions. Major powers are to meet in New York on Saturday to discuss proposals for a fourth.