Iran received information days ago that Israeli and U.S. intelligence intended to carry out terrorist acts in Tehran, the country's parliament speaker said on Wednesday, one day after the assassination of a university scientist.
Washington has rejected Iran's allegations of U.S. involvement in Tuesday's bombing that killed professor Massoud Ali Mohammadi near his home in the Iranian capital as absurd. Israel has not commented on the incident.
Mohammadi was killed in a powerful bomb blast as he was leaving home in northern Tehran for work.
Iranian officials and state media described the slain scientist as a nuclear physicist, but a spokesman said he did not work for the Atomic Energy Organization at the center of Iran's disputed nuclear program.
Iran's influential parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, said a U.S.-based pro-monarchy group had claimed responsibility for the attack, adding it was controlled by the CIA. Iran's Fars News Agency on Tuesday said such an exile group had claimed the bombing in a statement, without saying how it obtained it.
"An American-based monarchy group...claimed responsibility for this terrorist act," Larijani said, the state broadcaster reported. "Maybe the CIA and the Zionist regime [Israel] thought they can mislead us with such an absurd statement."
"We had clear information several days ago that the intelligence apparatus of the Zionist regime and the CIA wanted to implement terrorist acts in Tehran," he said.
Using such a "rootless group" as a cover was a new "disgrace" for U.S. President Barack Obama, Larijani said. "Why do you host this terrorist group in America?" he asked.
Israel refused Tuesday to react to Iranian accusations that it or the United States was behind a mysterious explosion that killed an Iranian nuclear physicist in Tehran Tuesday.
Iran blamed Israel and the U.S. Tuesday for the death of Dr. Massoud Ali Mohammadi, 50, a nuclear physics professor who is believed to have publicly backed opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi.
Both the Prime Minister's Office and the Foreign Ministry refused to comment on the explosion or the Iranian accusations. U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner denied the charge the United States was behind the blast yesterday, calling accusations "absurd."
But the Iranian foreign ministry had a different take on the bomb blast.
"One can see in preliminary investigations signs of the triangle of evil of the Zionist regime, America and their mercenaries in Iran in this terrorist incident," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said.
"Such terrorist acts and the physical elimination of the country's nuclear scientists will certainly not stop the scientific and technological process but will speed it up," he added.
"Given the fact that Massoud Ali Mohammadi was a nuclear scientist, the CIA and Mossad services and agents most likely have had a hand in it," Iranian prosecutor general Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said.
Iran's state-run Arabic-language television Al-Alam identified Mohammadi as a "hezbollahi" teacher - a term used for staunch supporters of the Iranian regime. However, opposition Web sites described Mohammadi as an outspoken supporter of Mousavi.
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that Ali Mohammadi was involved in a regional research project that also involved Israeli scientists. The project, called Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East, or SESAME, is based in Jordan and operates under United Nations auspices.
Iranian and foreign scientists told the Washington Post the project has applications in industry, medicine, nanotechnology and other fields unrelated to nuclear power.
Palestinians also participate in the project, whose last meeting was held in November in Jordan.
An Israeli scientist present at the meeting told the Washington Post that he talked to Ali Mohammadi during an informal group meeting. "We did not discuss politics or nuclear issues, as our project is not connected to nuclear physics," Rabinovici told the paper.
An Iranian scientist involved in the project denied that there had been any direct meetings between his delegation and the Israelis. "They are present in the same room, but there are no direct meetings," Javad Rahighi, a nuclear researcher, told the Washington Post. "We are all shocked," he said. "I couldn't imagine anybody wanting to kill him. He was a scientist, nothing more."