U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday that U.S. officials had “some ideas” as to who was behind the assassination of a nuclear scientist in Tehran this week, AFP reported.
During a meeting with soldiers at a Texas military base, Panetta insisted the United States was “not involved in any way, in any way with regards to the assassination that took place there.”
He added, “I’m not sure who was involved. We have some ideas as to who might be involved. But we don’t know exactly who was involved.”
Panetta’s comments echo ones made earlier by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In a press conference, Clinton said, “I want to categorically deny any United States involvement in any kind of act of violence inside Iran.”
Iran has already blamed Israel for the assassination of Professor Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan. A website identified with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Thursday that Iran is preparing its own answers to the string of assassinations of Iranian scientists, adding those responsible had better start staying awake at night.
The website specifically blamed Israel for the killings, saying that Israel wasn’t the only country that could undertake long-distance proxy wars. “We too can send our agents to kill people in their sleep,” the site quoted an unnamed official as saying.
While Panetta did not specify who he believed was behind the killing, earlier on Thursday U.S. President Barack Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on the phone and reportedly wanted explanations for the assassination.
Israel so far has not commented on the incident, but IDF spokesman Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai wrote on his Facebook page Wednesday, “I do not know who brought the Iranian scientist to account, but I certainly won’t shed a tear for him.”