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Nuclear Professor Assasinated in Tehran

Mysterious blast in Iranian capital leaves one dead, injures two. Local media reports say blast ‘reminiscent’ of previous attacks on nuclear scientists.

According to Iranian media reports, the incident “looks similar to attacks on nuclear scientists in the city,” more than one year ago. The semi-official Fars news agency cited witnesses as saying a motorcyclist stuck a bomb on the side of the car which then exploded, killing one and injuring two people inside.

Fars identified the victim as Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan. State-run Press TV said he was a university professor. Another Iranian nuclear professor was killed earlier this year when a motorcycle rigged with explosives was detonated outside his home. Iranian authorities, who claim Western governments seeking to thwart the country’s nuclear ambitions are behind the attacks on nuclear scientists, issued a statement blaming today’s attacks on “Zionist agents” and vowing revenge.

The U.S. and its allies are pressuring Iran to halt uranium enrichment, a key element of the nuclear program that the West suspects is aimed at producing atomic weapons. Uranium enriched to low levels can be used as nuclear fuel but at higher levels, it can be used as material for a nuclear warhead.

Iran has claimed that Israel’s Mossad, the CIA and Britain’s spy agency are engaged in an underground “terrorism” campaign against nuclear-related targets, including at least three slayings since early 2010 and the release of a malicious computer virus known at Stuxnet in 2010 that Iran says disrupted controls of some centrifuges a key component in nuclear fuel production. Both countries have denied the Iranian accusations.

Israeli officials have hinted about covert campaigns against Iran without directly admitting involvement. On Tuesday, Israeli military chief Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz was quoted as telling a parliamentary panel that 2012 would be a “critical year” for Iran in part because of “things that happen to it unnaturally.”

“Many bad things have been happening to Iran in the recent period,” added Mickey Segal, a former director of the Israeli military’s Iranian intelligence department. “Iran is in a situation where pressure on it is mounting, and the latest assassination joins the pressure that the Iranian regime is facing.”

Iran Sentences US Man to Death for Spying

According to Reuters, the Iran Revolutionary Court has sentenced an American-Iranian man to death for reportedly spying for the CIA. This move could likely aggravate the tension between Iran and the US, which is already high due to the Tehran nuclear dispute.

Amir Mirza Hekmati is being held by Iran and the White is trying to verify the verdict. Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said on Monday:

“If true, we strongly condemn such a verdict and will work with out partners to convey our condemnation to the Iranian government.”

The west has expanded punitive sanctions against the country recently over the suspicions of trying to develop atomic weapons under the guise of an atomic energy program for their civilians. The Islamic Republic denies the development of nuclear weapons.

“Amir Mirza Hekmati was sentenced to death…for cooperating with the hostile country America and spying for the CIA” was a statement issued by Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei, a spokesman for the ISNA. “The court found him Corrupt on the Earth and Mohareb (somebody who wages war against God). Hekmati has the ability to appeal his case to the Supreme Court.

The highest court in Iran must confirm every death sentence, but the ruling is not yet known for Hekmati. Hekmati is a 28-year-old man of Iranian decent and was born in Arizona. He was arrested by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry in December with the accusation of receiving training from the US in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a letter published on the site created by his family FreeAmir.org the parents published the following letter yesterday:

My husband Ali and I are shocked and terrified by the news that our son, Amir, has been sentenced to death.
We believe that this verdict is the result of a process that was neither transparent nor fair.
The Iranian authorities are denying that Amir is a United States citizen, despite the fact he was born in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Amir did not engage in any acts of spying, or “fighting against God,” as the convicting Judge has claimed in his sentence. Amir is not a criminal. His very life is being exploited for political gain.
A grave error has been committed, and we have authorized our legal representatives to make direct contact with the Iranian authorities to find a solution to this misunderstanding.
We pray that Iran will show compassion and not murder our son, Amir, a natural born American citizen, who was visiting Iran and his relatives for the first time.
Behnaz Hekmati
(Amir’s mother)

Vietor later released a statement saying “Allegations that Mr. Hekmati either worked for, or was sent to Iran by the CIA are false. The Iranian regime has a history of falsely accusing people of being spies, of eliciting forced confessions, and of holding innocent Americans for political reasons.”

The United States is urging Iran to give Hekmati legal council and to release him. The Iranian judiciary has said that Hekmati has admitted to being tied to the CIA, but denied all intention of going against Iran. Iran has had not relationship with the US since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Hekmati’s mother has said that he was visiting relatives in Iran for the first time in December when he was arrested on charges of espionage.

Some Stories from the World

At the CIA headquarters in Langley, one of the most recently uncovered artifacts in the agency’s private museum is a message from a father to his toddler son. And, get this! The gold-embossed letterhead features a swastika and the name Adolf Hitler.

The letter reads:

“Dear Dennis… The man who might have written on this card once controlled Europe — three short years ago when you were born. Today he is dead, his memory despised, his country in ruins.”

Dennis is the 69-year-old Dennis Helms, intellectual-property barrister in New Jersey. The writer of the letter was his father, Richard Helms, the CIA director during the Vietnam War and Watergate eras, who died in 2002. Directly after Germany’s surrender, Lt. Helms, an intelligence operative, snuck into Hitler’s chancellery in Berlin and filched the Fuehrer’s stationery. He dated the letter “V-E day” for May 8, 1945.

The letter flabbergasted the CIA museum’s curatorial staff when it was first acquired in May. Mainly because it also conveyed a certain historical intuition about the evil which one man could do. The letter happened to arrive at Langley only one day after Osama bin Laden was discovered and shot to death in May.

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In other news, the cardinal who helms Vatican relations with Jews found himself in hot water during his very first United States visit in his new position. After a speech on theology and Jewish-Catholic dialogue at Seton Hall University, Swiss Cardinal, Kurt Koch, repeated a comment he made earlier this year in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.
Rabbi Alan Brill, a Seton Hall professor who assisted in organizing Koch’s talk.
Koch wrote that:

“Since the cross of Jesus erases any desire for vengeance and calls everyone to reconciliation, it rises above us as the permanent and universal Yom Kippur.”

Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni of Rome had erstwhile complained that Koch seemed to be indicating that Jews should consider Christian beliefs as definitive.

The New Fun CIA

With the Russian ex-spy that was recently poisened in the UK and the new James Bond out, this seems like the appropriate time for this. The CIA is recruiting and it’s using some funky new methods. This one is cute, its an online quiz that lets you find out if you are CIA material. I took it…go ahead you know you want to try it 🙂

CIA Quiz

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