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Iran Seeks U.S. Extraditions Over Scientist Killing

Masud Ali Mohammadi, nuclear scientist, undated

Masud Ali Mohammadi, nuclear scientist, undated

TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran called on the United States today to extradite members of a "terrorist group" that the Islamic republic has linked to this month's killing of a university scientist in Tehran.

Iranian officials have blamed both Israel and the United States for the January 12 bomb attack that killed professor Masud Ali-Mohammadi. Washington has dismissed the charge of U.S. involvement as absurd.

Some Iranian media have also reported that a Western-based pro-monarchy group claimed responsibility for the attack, but have not said how they knew this.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast named the group today as Tondar (Thunder), without giving details. He said the Swiss ambassador, who represents U.S. interests in Iran, had been summoned to the Foreign Ministry on January 25.

"Regarding the assassination which was claimed by Tondar, we asked the Swiss Embassy for an explanation on how the U.S. accepted to have this terrorist group in their country," he told a weekly press briefing.

"They should be answerable about this and we want the criminals to be extradited to Iran," Mehmanparast said, without naming whom Tehran was seeking.

The United States cut relations with Tehran shortly after Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, which toppled the U.S.-backed shah.

Iranian officials have described the slain professor as a nuclear scientist, but a spokesman said he did not work for the Atomic Energy Organization at the center of the Islamic republic's nuclear energy program.

The West fears the program is aimed at acquiring nuclear weapons but Tehran says it is only for generating electricity.

An opposition website has said Ali-Mohammadi was an opposition supporter who backed moderate candidate Mir Hossein Musavi in last June's disputed election.

The January 12 bombing -- a rare attack in the Iranian capital -- occurred at a time of heightened tension in the country, seven months after a disputed presidential election plunged the major oil producer into turmoil.