The Wednesday attack — which instantly killed the scientist and fatally wounded his driver — was at least the fourth targeted hit against a member of Iran’s nuclear brain trust in two years. Tehran quickly blamed Israeli-linked agents backed by the U.S. and Britain.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton denied any U.S. role in the slaying, and the Obama administration condemned the attack. However, provocative hints from Jerusalem reinforced the perception of an organized and clandestine campaign to set back Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
The day before the attack, 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."