Attack On Iranian Nuclear Scientists Prompts Hit Squad Claims

Tehran today accused the west and Israel of dispatching a hit squad against its atomic programme, after an Iranian nuclear scientist was killed and another injured in co-ordinated attacks.

The attackers rode up on motorcycles and stuck bombs to the windows of the scientists' cars as they were leaving their homes in Tehran on the way to work. Seconds later the bombs detonated.

One bomb killed Majid Shahriar, of the nuclear engineering faculty at the Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran. His wife was in the car with him and was wounded. The second bomb injured Fereidoun Abbasi, 52, a nuclear physicist and professor at Shahid Besheshti, and also injured his wife.

Both men were senior figures in nuclear research. Abbasi, a former Revolutionary Guard, is named in a UN Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on Iran as working in banned nuclear activities with Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the scientist accused by western governments of running a secret nuclear weapons programme.

Shahriari had no known links to banned nuclear work, but was highly regarded in his field. He co-authored an academic paper on fission in nuclear reactors with Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation. An Iranian news website said he was designing a ""new generation of theoretical nuclear reactors"".

The attacks were similar to the assassination in January of Masoud Ali Mohammadi, an expert on particle physics, killed by a remote-control bomb strapped to a motorcycle as he was leaving his Tehran home on his way to work.

The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, blamed ""western governments and the Zionist regime"" for the attacks."