Iran on Thursday said an engineer had been killed in an “accident” at a defense research unit in an area near Tehran that hosted a military complex previously investigated by the UN nuclear watchdog.
The incident took place on Wednesday evening, just days after a colonel of the Revolutionary Guards, an ideological wing of Iran’s military, was shot dead near his home in eastern Tehran.
The New York Times reports that Iran’s arch-enemy Israel has told the United States that it was behind the operation. Iranian officials have blamed agents of the United States and its allies for the “killings”, the most high-profile in Iran since 2020.
Iran’s defense ministry says it is investigating an “accident” at a research unit in the Parchin area southeast of the capital, Tehran.
“Engineer Ehsan Gad Beigi was killed and one of his colleagues was injured in an accident at a Defense Ministry research unit in the Parchin area on Wednesday evening,” the ministry said in a brief statement.
“The cause of the accident is being investigated.”
State media had earlier reported that one person had been killed and another injured in an “industrial accident” in Parchin.
The Parchin complex is alleged to have conducted past tests of conventional explosives that could be used to detonate nuclear warheads, which Iran has repeatedly denied.
The site was re-examined by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2015 when Tehran reached a landmark agreement with the major powers under which it agreed to suspend its nuclear activities under UN auspices in exchange for lifting international sanctions.
Iran had previously denied IAEA access to Parchin, insisting it was a military site not linked to any nuclear activity, but the then head of the organization, the late Yukiya Amano, made an inspection.
In June 2020, a gas tank explosion in a “public area” near the complex shook the capital 30 kilometers (20 miles) away, but no casualties were reported, the defense ministry said at the time.
Israel’s ‘back’ guards hit
Iran’s nuclear program has been the target of a campaign of sabotage, cyber-attacks and assassinations of key scientists that it has blamed on Israel.
Israeli leaders have repeatedly refused to reject military action to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb.
Iran has consistently denied any ambitions to build a nuclear weapon, insisting its activities are completely peaceful.
On Sunday, assailants on a motorcycle shot dead five-year-old guard Colonel Sayad Khodai in his car outside his home.
Guards described Khodai as “the guardian of the sanctuary”, a term used for anyone working for the Islamic Republic in Syria or Iraq.
Iran has maintained significant political influence in both countries and has supported the government of President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war.
President Ibrahim Raisi warned on Monday that Iran would avenge Khodai’s killing.
Iran has blamed “elements associated with global arrogance” – the term Islamic republic for its allies, including the United States and Israel.
On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that Israel had told the United States it was responsible for the killings.
The newspaper reported that “an intelligence officer briefed the contacts, Israel told American officials that he was behind the killings.”
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israeli officials had told U.S. officials that the killing was intended as a warning to Iran to suspend the activities of a secret group within the Quds Force – the Revolutionary Guards’ foreign operations branch.
It was the most high-profile assassination inside Iran since the assassination of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in November 2020.
It comes at a time when talks between Iran and major powers on the resumption of the 2015 nuclear deal have stalled.
One of the key sticking points is Tehran’s demand for the removal of the guards from the US terrorism blacklist – a request rejected by Washington.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)