Iran Says Arrests Made in Killing of Scientist, More to Follow

Iran said it has detained suspects with links to foreign intelligence agencies over attacks that killed a physicist working on the country’s atomic program.

“With the arrests of these people, we have found new clues to arrest other elements,” Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi was quoted as saying today on the website of state-run Press TV. He didn’t give details of the arrests, including the number of people in custody or their nationalities.

The minister said the suspects cooperated with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Israel’s Mossad and Britain’s overseas spy agency, MI6. The accusation that the U.K. had a role in the Nov. 29 bombing that killed Shahid Beheshti University faculty member Majid Shahriari adds to initial accusations by Iran that the U.S. and Israel were responsible.

Earlier today, the state-run Iranian Students News Agency quoted Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency, as saying the country is boosting security for its nuclear experts.

“We have been pursuing serious protective measures for hundreds of our scientists and experts since last year,” Salehi said in the report today. “We will multiply protective measures and take other steps as well.”

International sanctions have increased pressure on Iran over its nuclear program, which the U.S. and allies say may be disguising weapons development. Iran says its nuclear program is for civilian purposes, such as generating electricity.

A second blast in Tehran on Nov. 29 injured Fereydoun Abasi, a physicist from the same university who was linked to the nuclear program in a 2007 United Nations resolution imposing sanctions on Iran. Another scientist was killed in Tehran in January in an attack Iran also blamed on the U.S. and Israel.

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. Israel has said it doesn’t comment on such allegations.

A British Foreign Office spokeswoman in London said today the department would respond later to a request for comment on the Iranian comments.

To contact the reporter on this story: Caroline Alexander in London at calexander1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net.

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