Iranian paper calls for retaliation against Israel

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A hard-line Iranian newspaper called Thursday for retaliation against Israel, a day after the mysterious killing of a nuclear scientist in Tehran with a magnetic bomb attached to his car. Iran’s top leader blamed Israel and the U.S.

Provocative hints from Israel reinforced the perception the killing was part of an organized and clandestine campaign to set back Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which the U.S. and its allies suspect are aimed at producing weapons. Iran says the program is for peaceful purposes only.

Iran’s nuclear confrontation with the West had already been escalating in the weeks before the killing, with the U.S. tightening sanctions against Tehran, and Iranian officials warning that they would shut a waterway vital to global oil shipping in response.

The Wednesday assassination of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan — at least the fourth targeted hit against a member of Iran’s nuclear brain trust in two years — has heightened tensions even further.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed both Israel and the U.S. In a message read on Iranian state TV, he said the killing was carried out “with design or coordination of the CIA and the Mossad,” Israel’s spy agency. He pledged that Iran would punish those responsible.

A column in the Kayhan newspaper by chief editor Hossein Shariatmadari asked why Iran did not avenge Roshan, a chemistry expert and a director of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, by striking Israel.

“Israeli military chief Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz in his recent remarks spoke about damaging Iran’s nuclear program,” he wrote. “Assassinations of Israeli military and officials are easily possible.”

The day before the attack, 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.”

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