Two explosions in Tehran Monday morning killed one nuclear scientist and seriously wounded another. Both were university lecturers and worked on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. 

Both men, and their wives, who also were wounded, were attacked shortly before 8 a.m. as they drove to work. Iranian media said that the assassinations were carried out by motorcyclists who placed a bomb in or next to the cars and then shot at the passengers.

Pictures on Iranian television show evidence of gunshots but not of bomb explosions. One of the cars was identified as a Peugeot, model 206.

The semi-official Iranian Fars News Agency accused the United States and “Zionists,” meaning Israel, as being behind the assassinations. Iranian media also quoted an analyst who said the method of using motorcyclists is a “known Israeli system.”

Iran’s state television reported, “In a criminal terrorist act, the agents of the Zionist regime attacked two prominent university professors who were on their way to work.” It identified the scientists as Dr. Majid Shahriari, who was killed, and Dr. Fereydoon Abbasi.

Dr. Shahriari was a member of the nuclear engineering department of Shahid Beheshti University and Dr. Abbasi worked on nuclear research at the Iranian defense ministry.

Assassinations are rare in Tehran, where the secret police and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are ever-present.

Another Iranian nuclear scientist was killed nearly a year ago, reportedly by a bomb that was planted on a motorcycle. Previous “accidents,” along with the Stuxnet virus, have been attributed to Israel.

The explosions occurred hours after the WikiLeaks report report that Israel has advised the United States to topple the Iranian regime and that Saudi Arabia asked the American government to attack Iran in order to stop Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from continuing his program to develop and manufacture nuclear weapons.

He has denied the charges, saying that the nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.