UNITED NATIONS - The Tuesday morning car bomb that killed 32-year-old Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a nuclear scientist at Iran's largest nuclear enrichment facility, marks the fourth such targeted killing of an Iranian scientist in two years, a practice widely believed to have been carried out by either Israel or the United States in order to hamper development of a covert nuclear weapons program; a program Tehran claims is solely for peaceful purposes.
The assassination comes as the latest round of U.S. and European Union sanctions against Iran, which U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the UN Rosemary DiCarlo called "the most comprehensive [Iranian] sanctions ever," are beginning to bite. They are so effective, according to French UN Ambassador Gérard Araud, that permanent Security Council members China and Russia refuse to join their western permanent counterparts - France, the UK and the U.S. - in levying a fifth round of UN sanctions. Doing so, he said, would "touch the nerve," or endanger Moscow and Beijing's strategic interests in the region.
During Security Council consultations on South Sudan the morning of the assassination, the 15-nation body "raised the issue of the latest announcement by Iran of the beginning of enrichment of uranium in Qom which was confirmed by the IAEA on Monday," according to French Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Martin Briens.
He was joined outside Security Council chambers by representatives from Germany, the UK and the U.S. - the E3 + U.S. grouping - to express concern over Tehran's provocative move.
The Western leaders condemned the resumption of enrichment and urged a return to negotiations, but had no comment on the death of the Iranian nuclear scientist. Neither did the Spokesman for the Secretary-General Martin Nesirky when interrogated by Iranian media about the incident in his noon briefing.