Iran Calls Nuclear Physicist's Killing Terrorism, Notes `Western Silence'

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said the killing this week of a physicist working on the country’s nuclear program was a “terrorist” operation.

Mottaki, speaking to reporters today in Kuwait City, said “Western countries’ silence on the killing raises questions.” Iran has blamed the U.S. and Israel for Majid Shahriari’s death in the Nov. 29 bombing in Tehran. A second blast that day injured Fereydoun Abasi, a physicist from the same university. Another scientist was killed in the city in January in an attack Iran also attributed to the U.S. and Israel.

International sanctions have increased pressure on Iran over its nuclear program, which the U.S. and allies say may be disguising weapons development. The injured scientist, also known as Abasi-Davani, was linked to the program in a 2007 United Nations resolution that imposed one of four sets of UN sanctions on Iran over the nuclear work.

Iran’s atomic development will be discussed when the country returns to talks Dec. 6 and 7 in Geneva with a European Union-led group that includes the U.S., China, Russia, France, the U.K. and Germany. Mottaki said he hopes for “serious” talks during the meeting and that while his country supports the discussions, it shouldn’t have to “compromise” on its rights.

The purpose of next week’s “talks will be to underscore the concerns of the entire international community about Iran’s intentions,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today during visit to Kazakhstan.

‘All Options’

Iran says its nuclear program is for civilian purposes, such as generating electricity. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Iran should know that “all options are on the table” to halt the program.

After Iran blamed the U.S. and Israel for the attacks on the scientists, an Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said Israel has a longstanding policy of not commenting on such allegations.

Accusations of U.S. involvement are “absurd,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said on Nov. 29. “We have pursued peaceful and diplomatic means to deal with Iran’s nuclear program,” he said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Fiona MacDonald in Kuwait at fmacdonald4@bloomberg.net; Dahlia Kholaif in Kuwait at dkholaif@bloomberg.net; Ladane Nasseri in Tehran at lnasseri@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Maher Chmaytelli at mchmaytelli@bloomberg.net

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