Iran hangs accused Israeli collaborator
To Iran now where the authorities have hanged for allegedly collaborating with Israel to kill one of Iran’s top nuclear scientists.
The hanging coincides with talks in Vienna this week between Iranian leaders and the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors.
They’re the first such talks in months, as Middle East correspondent Anne Barker reports.
ANNE BARKER: On a winter’s morning two years ago an Iranian physicist, Masoud Ali Mohammadi, left his home in Tehran for work when a bomb hidden in a parked motorbike exploded outside his front door.
He was one of five nuclear scientists killed in Iran in recent years.
And Tehran has long pointed the finger at Israel or the US for killing them in order to sabotage its nuclear program.
Professor Mohammadi’s links to any atomic program, if indeed there were any, have never been made public in Iran.
But months after the bombing another Iranian man, Majid Jamali Fashi, was arrested and charged with his assassination and sentenced to death.
The 24-year-old was accused of being an agent for Israel’s spy agency Mossad.
Now, Iranian state television has announced his execution.
(translation of Iranian TV announcement)
“The man responsible for the assassination of martyr Masoud Ali Mohammad”, a newsreader says, “has been hanged”.
Israel has never confirmed or denied involvement in professor Mohammadi’s killing or the deaths of any other nuclear scientists.
But during his trial, Jamali Fashi was accused of co-operating with Mossad, receiving $120,000 from the spy agency, and even travelling to Israel to attend a Mossad training course.
And last year Iranian television broadcast what it claimed was Jamali Fashi confessing to his recruitment as a Mossad agent.
Israel has made no official comment on his hanging which rated only a few lines in the local news.
ISRAELI NEWS READER: This is Col Israel, the voice of…
ANNE BARKER: Nevertheless, Israel and the west are adamant Iran is developing atomic weapons under the guise of its civilian energy and space programs, a claim Tehran consistently denies.
This week in fact, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has convened the first meeting in months with Tehran aimed at clarifying Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
The last talks broke down when a monitoring team was denied access to a military base at Parchin, southeast of Tehran, where the IAEA claims Iran has conducted high-explosives tests.
An IAEA report last year alleged the tests, conducted in a large metal containment vessel, were a strong indicator of possible weapons development.
But western powers have accused Iran of removing evidence at the site.
And IAEA officials in Vienna have renewed demands for access to Parchin, as well as to key documents and individuals involved in Iran’s atomic program.
So far, neither side will elaborate on the outcome of the meeting.
Ali Asghar Soltanieh is Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA.
ALI ASGHAR SOLTANIEH: Well we had good talks, everything is right track. The environment is very constructive…
ANNE BARKER: Wider diplomatic talks on Iran’s nuclear program are set down for next week.