Iran scientist bomb - AFP - Jan. 11, 2012
An image grab taken from footage broadcast by Iran's state-run Arabic-language Al-Alam TV on January 11, 2012, shows blood stains at the site where a nuclear scientist was killed. Photo by AFP
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A hard-line Iranian newspaper called Thursday for retaliation against Israel, a day after the mysterious killing of a nuclear scientist in Tehran with a magnetic bomb attached to his car.

Provocative hints from Israel reinforced the perception that the killing was part of an organized and clandestine campaign to set back Iran's nuclear ambitions, which the U.S. and its allies suspect are aimed at producing weapons. Iran says the program is for peaceful purposes only.

A column in the Kayhan newspaper by chief editor Hossein Shariatmadari asked why Iran did not retaliate. "Assassinations of Israeli military and officials are easily possible," he wrote. The attack - which instantly killed the scientist and his driver on Wednesday - was at least the fourth targeted hit against a member of Iran's nuclear brain trust in two years.

Iran quickly blamed Israeli-linked agents backed by the U.S. and Britain.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton denied any U.S. role in the slaying, and the Obama administration condemned the attack.

However, the day before the attack, Israeli military chief Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz was quoted as telling a parliamentary panel that 2012 would be a "critical year" for Iran - in part because of "things that happen to it unnaturally."

The blast killed Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a chemistry expert and a director of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, the centerpiece of Iran's expanding program to make nuclear fuel.

Roshan, 32, had planned to attend a memorial later that day for another nuclear researcher, Majid Shahriari, who was killed in a similar pinpoint blast two years ago, Iranian media said.