Israel funding dissident People’s Mujahedin of Iran, say officials in Tehran
U.S. officials confirmed today that Israel has been funding and training Iranian dissidents to assassinate nuclear scientists involved in Iran’s nuclear program.
The claim has already been levelled by the Iranian government who believed that Mossad, Israel’s secret service, have been arming dissidents with the terrorist organisation the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK).
Last month Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, 32, a chemistry expert, was killed in a brazen daylight assassination when two assailants on a motorcycle attached a magnetic bomb to his car in Tehran.
Thousands of mourners chanted ‘Death to Israel’ and ‘Death to America’ as the coffin of chemical engineer Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, 32, was carried through the streets of Tehran
Washington insiders confirmed there is a close relationship between Mossad and MEK, according to NBC, but said the U.S. was not involved.
Mohammad Javad Larijani, a senior aide to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told NBC: ‘Israel does not have direct access to our society. Mujahedin, being Iranian and being part of Iranian society, they have… places to get into the touch with people.
‘So I think they are working hand-to-hand very close. And we do have very concrete documents.’
At one point, Mr Larijani claimed Mossad had built a replica home of an Iranian scientist so assassins could get to know the layout before they carried out an assassination.
MEK denied involvement while the Israel Foreign Ministry declined to comment.
A spokesperson for The National Council of Resistance of Iran, of which MEK is the largest member, also denied the claim, saying: ‘The claim that the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) had any role in the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists and the claim of the PMOI/MEK cooperation with Mossad is a total lie and there is not event a scintilla of truth in it.
‘The National Council of Resistance of Iran has repeatedly denied the baseless allegation of playing a role in the assassination of nuclear scientists, whose primary source has been the propaganda organs of the clerical regime and the regime’s officials.’
In an address yesterday, Israeli president Shimon Peres referred to the Iranian nuclear issue.
Assassinated: Ahmadi-Roshan’s car is taken away for examination after he was killed
He addressed the Iranian people, saying: ‘We were not born enemies and there is no need for us to live as enemies. Do not allow the flags of hostility to cast a dark shadow on your heritage.
‘You are a sensitive people that aspire to friendship and peace, not conflict and wars.’
However there have been suggestions that Israel’s focus on Iran might really be a cover for destabilising President Obama’s administration in Washington.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said publicly last month that he believed that an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities might be welcomed by the people of the country.
President Obama reiterated his view in an interview earlier this week that the increasing tension with Iran over the country’s nuclear program could be resolved peacefully through talks. However he did also say that a range of options were available.
According to salon.com, Netanyahu’s statements were to paint Obama as ‘weak’ on Middle Eastern issues and undermine the President’s second run for the White House.
Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan’s death was the latest in a string of attacks on Iranian scientists.
Mr Roshan, who was a chemical engineer and reportedly worked on procurement for the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, was killed with his driver by a motorcycle assassin in rush-hour traffic.
The killing of Mr Roshan in January bore a strong resemblance to earlier killings of scientists working on the Iranian nuclear programme.
His funeral in Tehran several days later saw the ruling clergy stir the crowd of thousands of mourners who had gathered into a frenzy, urging the public to face down Western and Israeli threats against Iran’s nuclear programme.
They chanted ‘Death to Israel’ and ‘Death to America’ as the coffin was hoisted high and carried through the streets.
Several scientists have been killed or injured in the past two years and others have also been attacked or allegedly kidnapped – with Iran blaming the west.
In June 2009, Shahram Amiri claimed to have been kidnapped while on a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia and transferred to the U.S. where he said he was offered $50million to ‘spread lies’ about Iran’s nuclear work. He returned to Iran in July 2010.
War of words: Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) has made veiled threats over Iran’s nuclear program while Obama (right) has repeatedly said the issue can be resolved peacefully
In January 2010, nuclear scientist Massoud Ali Mohammadi was killed by remote-controlled bomb in Tehran while in November, two car bomb blasts killed a nuclear scientist and wounded another in the capital.
Physicist Darioush Rezai, 35, was shot dead by gunmen in eastern Tehran last July after being linked to the nuclear program.
The People’s Mujahedin, also known as MEK, MKO and PMI, has been named a terror organisation both by the U.S. and Iran.
It was accused of being responsible for the deaths of American servicemen and citizens in the 1970s and 80s.
Israel, thought to hold the Middle East’s only atomic weapons, has warned Iran in the past against pursuing its nuclear research and development.
Iran has accused Israel’s Mossad, the CIA and Britain’s spy agencies of engaging in an underground ‘terrorism’ campaign against nuclear-related targets, including at least three killings since early 2010 and the release of a malicious computer virus that temporarily disrupted controls of some centrifuges – a key component in nuclear fuel production.
All three countries have denied the Iranian accusations.
The U.S. and its allies are pressuring Iran to halt uranium enrichment, a key element of the nuclear programme that the West suspects is aimed at producing atomic weapons.
Uranium enriched to low levels can be used as nuclear fuel but at higher levels, it can be used as material for a nuclear warhead.
Iran denies it is trying to make nuclear weapons, saying its programme is for peaceful purposes only.