Bomb blast kills nuclear scientist in Iran; Israel accused

TEHRAN (Reuters) - An Iranian nuclear scientist was killed by a bomb placed on his car by a motorcyclist in Tehran on Wednesday, and a city official blamed Israel for the attack, similar to attacks on nuclear scientists just over a year ago.

Fars news agency identified the victim as Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, a 32-year-old graduate of an oil industry university. It said he had supervised a department at Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment facility. Iran's atomic energy organization said it would issue a statement shortly.

"The bomb was a magnetic one and the same as the ones previously used for the assassination of the scientists, and the work of the Zionists (Israelis)," Fars quoted Deputy Tehran Governor Safarali Baratloo as saying.

Witnesses told Reuters they had seen two people on the motorbike fix the bomb to the car. As well as the person killed in the car, a pedestrian was also killed. Another person in the car was gravely injured, they said.

Two daylight bomb attacks on the same day in Tehran in November 2010 killed one nuclear scientist and wounded another.

Iran then blamed Israeli, British and U.S. intelligence for the attacks, which it said were aimed at assassinating key people working on Iran's nuclear program.

Iran denies Western suspicions that its nuclear program has military goals, saying it is for purely peaceful purposes.

There was no immediate word from Israeli officials. Israel has always declined comment on previous such bombings in Iran.

On Tuesday, Israel's military chief of staff, Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz, was quoted as saying that Iran should expect more "unnatural" events in 2012.

His comments, to a closed-door parliamentary panel in Jerusalem, were widely interpreted as alluding to previous acts of sabotage.

"For Iran, 2012 is a critical year in combining the continuation of its nuclearization, internal changes in the Iranian leadership, continuing and growing pressure from the international community and things which take place in an unnatural manner," Gantz was quoted as saying.

(Reporting by Mitra Amiri; Writing by Robin Pomeroy, editing by Diana Abdallah)

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