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Hit back at Israel, says Iran paper

A hard-line Iranian newspaper has called for retaliation against Israel, a day after a nuclear scientist in Tehran was killed by a magnetic bomb attached to his car.

Hints from Israel reinforced the impression that the killing was part of an organised and secret campaign to set back Iran's nuclear ambitions, which the US and its allies suspect are aimed at producing weapons.

Iran says the programme is for peaceful purposes only.

Writing in the Kayhan newspaper, chief editor Hossein Shariatmadari asked why Iran did not retaliate. "Assassinations of Israeli military and officials are easily possible," he wrote.

The attack, which instantly killed the scientist and his driver on Wednesday, 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 US and Britain.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denied any US role in the slaying, and the Obama administration condemned the attack.

However, 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".

The blast killed Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, 32, a chemistry expert and a director of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, the centrepiece of Iran's expanding programme to make nuclear fuel.

Roshan, 32, had planned to attend a memorial later that day for another nuclear researcher who was killed in a similar pinpoint blast two years ago.

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