Iran's top nuclear scientist was assassinated in a car bombing on Monday, and Iran is blaming the United States and Israel.
According to TIME magazine, a Western intelligence expert with knowledge of the operation says Majid Shahriari was killed when an explosive charge -- placed in his car and operated by remote control -- was detonated by remote control seconds after he climbed into the vehicle.
This deals a major blow to Iran's nuclear ambitions -- Shahriari was the top scientist and senior manager of Iran's nuclear effort. Only political appointees are ranked higher than Shahriari in Iran's nuclear effort.
As far as who was responsible, TIME writes:
The assassination carried the signature of Israel's Mossad, which has carried out similar operations on foreign soil over the decades. Typically, a team of agents reconnoiters the target and his routines over a period of months, assessing vulnerabilities and opportunities to escape afterward. Most of the operatives are usually on their way out of the country by the time the charge is detonated by a member who sees the target enter the booby-trapped car. "It's like a suit," says the intelligence expert. "An assassination must be custom-made." Israel has not confirmed any of this, but the nation's media is assuming the Mossad is responsible as well. It ran stories about the assassination alongside reports of the appointment of the new head of Mossad.
A second nuclear scientist managed to escape death from a similar attack the same day. According to Iranian media reports, Fereydoun Abbasi was being driven to work, when his driver/bodyguard saw a motorcycle near the car (photo above) and became suspicious.
"In the second incident, the driver noticed the motorbike approaching and he distanced from it — that is why the explosion did not damage his car so badly," said Tehran police chief Hossein Sajedinia.
Iran insists that in both incidents, a motorcycle driver placed explosives on the exterior of the cars. This is contrary to the story that TIME's sources reported, however.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blamed the attacks on the U.S. and "the Zionist entity," refusing to say the name "Israel."