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Iran’s Spy Chief Denounces Alleged Israeli Plot Against Nuclear Scientists

Iran's Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi speaks with foreign and local media at a news conference in Tehran, 11 Jan 2011

Iran's Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi speaks with foreign and local media at a news conference in Tehran, 11 Jan 2011

Iran’s Intelligence Minister, Heydar Moslehi, says there is a vast assassination plot behind the attacks on Iranian nuclear physicists last year.

The intelligence minister claims the alleged suspects in the killings are connected with Israel's Mossad spy agency. Heydar Moslehi warned any countries providing support to Israel represent a threat to the region.

He accuses Israel of using, what he calls, mercenaries for intelligence purposes. He names Iranian opposition and separatist groups and says they collude with Israel and NATO spy organizations, which they contact in Western Europe.

Physicist Masoud ali-Mohammadi was killed one year ago, followed by the death of nuclear physicist Majid Shahriari in November.

Iranian TV broadcast what it called a "confession" Monday by an alleged terrorist named Majid Jamali-Fash, who claimed to have visited Israel to be trained by the Mossad.

But political science professor Houchang Hassanyari, of Canada’s Royal Military College, says the confession looks forced.

"The confession was, I think, very artificially, hastily organized and put together," he said. "Basically, what the gentleman was saying: he mentioned Tel Aviv: [that] Israeli agents took them to a place in the north of Tel Aviv, trained them and showed them how to use a motorcycle."

Hassanyari notes that Moslehi’s announcement comes exactly one-year after ali-Mohammadi was assassinated, and says the Iranian government is under pressure to find the culprits.

"Many, maybe millions of Iranians who watched that are pessimistic about the whole staging of this situation," he said. "People in Iran [are] criticizing the regime: how they pretend to be able to monitor a fly in the sky and are not capable to find the assassins of those who killed ali-Mohammedi."

University of Denver Political Science Professor Nader Hashemi says the Iranian government is suffering a "huge crisis of legitimacy" and that its normal reaction is to blame either the United States or Israel whenever something goes wrong.

"Whenever anything goes wrong [the regime] falls back on this standard refrain that the entire world is conspiring against us, everyone is to blame for Iran's internal problems, except Iran's current regime and its own political leaders," he said.

Amir Moussavi of Iran’s Center for Arab and Iranian Studies told several Arab satellite TV channels that Tehran possesses convincing documents about Western and Israeli involvement in assassinating Iranian scientists. But he refused to elaborate on what those documents might be.

U.S. officials have called the accusation of involvement absurd. Israeli Cabinet Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer said last year he knew nothing about the incident, but it is not surprising Iran blames Israel.