JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)—The Iranian Intelligence Ministry on Thursday announced a second wave of arrests of assassins hired by Israel to murder its nuclear scientists.
The state news agency IRNA quoted police as saying the suspects were “hired by an Israeli spy network.”
Tehran has accused Israel of being behind the killings of several scientists associated with its program to develop nuclear weapons. In the most recent killing, in Tehran in January, a nuclear scientist was killed seconds after a bomb placed on his car by a passing motorcyclist was detonated.
The first wave of arrests of alleged Israeli assassins was announced in April. At the time, Tehran claimed it had penetrated a “major terrorist group” and arrested several members involved in the killing of nuclear scientists.
In the new wave of arrests, the Iranian Intelligence Ministry announced that the suspects were responsible for the killing of Majid Shahriari, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, and Reza Qashqaei, scientists working on Tehran’s nuclear program.
Iran claims that the United States and Israel were responsible for carrying out the scientists’ assassinations in collaboration with the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK). This Iranian opposition group in exile seeks to overthrow the mullahs’ Islamist regime and replace it with a secular and democratic government.
The Iranian government announced its determination to bring to justice the “terrorists” who “martyred the young scientists in cold-blooded murder,” IRNA reported.
Meanwhile, as the world community waits for mounting international sanctions to pressure Iran to stop its nuclear program, both the United States and Israel are maintaining a wait-and-see attitude, keeping “all options open,” including military intervention.
“If Israel is forced to choose between bombing Iran and allowing Iran to obtain a nuclear bomb, it must choose the former,” Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon told Haaretz.
Ya’alon, who is also minister of strategic affairs, said that during the past few months, Iran has significantly stepped up the pace of its uranium enrichment. If the Islamic Republic is not stopped, it will have enough enriched uranium to manufacture seven or eight atomic bombs within a year, and it will be capable of putting together a more primitive nuclear device, a so-called dirty bomb, in less than six months, he said.
As a result, according to Ya’alon, the Iranian nuclear threat is like a sword held to Israel’s throat. If the diplomatic and economic pressures on Iran are not increased swiftly, and if there are no other positive developments, he said the moment of truth will soon arrive.