WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke Thursday about Iran amid tensions over the killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist, but the White House refused to comment on any role by Israel even as it continued to deny U.S. involvement.
A White House statement on the phone call between Obama and Netanyahu didn't say whether they discussed the death of the scientist, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, who was killed Wednesday in Tehran by a magnetic bomb. It said Obama and Netanyahu "discussed recent Iran-related developments," including efforts to hold Iran accountable for failures.
Provocative hints from Israel have reinforced the perception the killing was part of an organized 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.
The Iranian government has called on the United Nations to condemn the killing of the scientist, calling it a "terrorist attack" and blaming foreign powers. A hard-line Iranian newspaper called Thursday for retaliation against Israel.
White House spokesman Jay Carney declined to say anything on any role by Israel.
"Obviously we don't speak for any other country, and we had nothing to do with it. This has been expressed by officials at a variety of levels of the U.S. government. And we condemn the violence in Iran," Carney said Thursday.
"We're not speaking for any other country when we make statements like that," he said.
The attack came one day after Israeli military chief Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz was quoted as telling a parliamentary committee that 2012 would be critical for Iran - in part because of "things that happen to it unnaturally." And other Israeli officials hinted at covert campaigns against Iran without directly admitting involvement.
The U.S. and its allies are pressuring Iran to halt uranium enrichment, but Iran appears to be attempting to expand operations. The U.S. also is angered by an Iranian court's death sentence of a U.S. citizen.