TEHRAN (Reuters) - A senior Iranian official on Sunday blamed the United States and Israel for the killing of an Iranian scientist, who the deputy interior minister said was not linked to Iran’s nuclear program as reported by media.
Darioush Rezaie, 35, a university lecturer, was shot dead by gunmen in eastern Tehran Saturday. Some media reports said Rezaie was a nuclear scientist but Deputy Interior Minister Safarali Baratlou said this was not true.
Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani in a speech broadcast live on state TV blamed the United States and Israel for the killing.
“The terrorist action by American and the Zionist regime (Israel) yesterday ... is another example of the level of their animosity (against Iran),” he said.
Iranian media said security officials were investigating the killing.
Several nuclear scientists have been assassinated in Iran in the last few years.
One scientist was killed and another wounded in Tehran in November, which Iranian officials blamed Israel and the United States for. Washington dismissed that at the time.
It has not been officially confirmed whether Rezaie was involved in Iran’s nuclear program, as reported by some media.
Lawmaker Zohreh Elahian said Rezaie had no links to Iran’s nuclear program, which the United States and its allies say is a cover to build bombs.
“Rezaie was an elite Iranian physicist ... he was murdered by our country’s enemies. But ... he didn’t have any connection to Iran’s nuclear activities,” said Elahian, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
Tehran governor Morteza Tamaddon warned that Iran “preserves the right to retaliate,” the semi-official Mehr news agency reported. Tamaddon did not elaborate.
Iran, a major oil producer, says its nuclear program is solely for civilian purposes and so far has refused to halt its sensitive uranium enrichment activities, as demanded by the United Nations Security Council.
The refusal has led to the imposition of sanctions by the United Nations, the European Union and the United States.
Iranian MPs Sunday passed a bill obliging the government to impose sanctions on U.S. officials like former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, his deputy Paul Wolfowitz, and military commanders at U.S. detention centres Abu Ghraib in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The bill, analysts say, is a retaliatory measure against blacklisting senior Iranian officials by Washington, who it says were responsible for human rights abuses in the Islamic state.
Iran rejects accusations about its human rights record.
Writing by Parisa Hafezi