Iran: Leave well alone

Almost as soon as the story broke that an Iranian nuclear scientist had been killed by a remote-controlled bomb, an attack which Iran blamed on its three arch-enemies – exiled royalists, the US and Israel – important elements of the narrative began to fall apart. According to opposition sources, the Tehran university professor Massoud Ali Mohammadi, an author of several articles on quantum physics, was working for Iran's nuclear defence programme, although this was denied by Iran's atomic agency.

But it was less clear where the professor's real loyalties lay. The state broadcaster IRIB described him as committed and revolutionary, but his name appeared among those university teachers who supported the ­opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi before the disputed election last year, and his students claimed yesterday that he had been active in helping them organise protests.

So while Iran's foreign ministry was quick to suggest that the professor's death was the work of US and Israeli covert plans to delay Iran's nuclear programme, it is just as probable that his killing might have been arranged to stop further defections or to set the stage for an attack on the leaders of Iran's opposition movement. There has been a steady escalation of violence, as political protest has shown no signs of abating. The nephew of Mr Mousavi was shot during clashes during the Shia Muslim Ashura festival. Last week the car of the another defeated opposition candidate in the... >>>

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