Iran tries 'Israel spy' accused of killing nuclear scientist

Iran on Tuesday opened the trial of a man accused of playing a crucial role in the 2010 killing of one of its top nuclear scientists and of spying for arch-foe Israel, local media reported.

Majid Jamali Fashi is the main suspect in the assassination of Masoud Ali Mohammadi, a particle physics professor at Tehran University who was killed in a bomb attack outside his home in January 2010.

His trial began Tuesday morning in the Revolutionary Court, ISNA news agency reported.

Jamali Fashi is "accused of Moharebe (waging war against God) using assassination as the means... by placing a bomb-laden bike in front of Ali Mohammadi's house," the state television website quoted the prosecutor as saying.

If proven guilty, he faces the death sentence.

Iran has blamed the killing on "mercenaries" in the pay of Israel and the United States.

Jamali Fashi also faces charges of cooperating with Israel and its spy agency as well as receiving 120,000 US dollars in return for collecting intelligence and passing them to Mossad, the report added.

The prosecutor said Jamali Fashi has "confessed" to the charges of collaboration with Israel and its intelligence agency against Iran.

Earlier this year, Iran said it arrested the man responsible for the bombing when it busted a network working for the Israeli spy agency Mossad.

In a recent televised "confession," a transcript of which was posted on the state television website on Monday, Jamali Fashi said he received "training" from Mossad agents.

Israel has long regarded the Islamic republic's controversial nuclear programme as an existential threat.

Another Iranian nuclear scientist, Majid Shahriari, was killed in the capital on November 29, while the current nuclear chief Fereydoon Abbasi Davani survived a similar assassination attempt on the same day.

Iranian officials immediately accused the United States and Israel of being behind the attempts.

Tehran has also blamed Tel Aviv and Washington for the unexplained disappearances of several of its military officials and nuclear scientists in recent years, and for a computer attack by the Stuxnet malware in the summer of 2010 against its centrifuges, the uranium enriching device.

Western powers, along with Israel, suspect Iran is seeking an atomic weapons capability under the guise of its civilian nuclear and space programmes, a charge Tehran vehemently denies.

The Islamic republic is currently under four sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, the most controversial part of its nuclear programme.

Several countries, including the United States, and the European Union have also imposed other unilateral punitive measures against Tehran.

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