January 13, 2012 / 12:10 AM / 8 years ago

U.S. has "ideas" on Iran scientist killer: Panetta

EL PASO, Texas (Reuters) - The United States has ideas about who may have assassinated an Iranian nuclear scientist this week but doesn’t know for sure and was not involved in any way, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told U.S. soldiers on Thursday.

“I can tell you one thing: The United States was not involved in that kind of effort. That’s not what the United States does,” Panetta told a town hall meeting of soldiers at Fort Bliss.

“We have some ideas as to who might be involved but we don’t know exactly who was involved,” he said, adding that “we were not involved in any way, in any way, with regards to the assassination that took place there.”

Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, 32, was killed by a motorbike hitman who put a magnetic bomb on his car on a busy street near a Tehran university during the morning rush hour on Wednesday.

Iran blamed Israeli and U.S. agents of being behind the killing but insisted it would not derail Tehran’s nuclear program.

It was the fifth daylight attack on technical experts involved in Iran’s nuclear program in two years. The bomb also killed Ahmadi-Roshan’s driver and wounded a passer-by.

Reporting By David Alexander; Editing by Xavier Briand

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