Iran believes Israel killed two scientists by poisoning their food as tensions escalate between the two nations over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, according to a report.
Geologist Kamran Aghamolaei and aeronautical engineer Ayoub Entezari died within days of each other after attending dinner parties in cities about 400 miles apart, the New York Times reported on Monday.
The circumstances of their deaths remain murky, as do their ties to the government and involvement in Iran’s nuclear program.
The Times reported, citing Israeli and Iranian media, that Aghamolaei worked at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility, but friends claimed he was employed by a private geological research company.
Entezari worked for a government aerospace center in Yazd on projects related to missiles and airplane turbines, the report said.
Both graduated from top universities and were described as healthy and athletic before falling ill and being taken to intensive care units at local hospitals.
Entezari, 35, began suffering from symptoms of food poisoning after attending a dinner in Yazd and died on May 31. The host of the dinner party has since disappeared and is being sought by authorities.
Aghamolaei, 31, had just returned to Teharn after a business trip to the city of Tabriz when he became sick with severe nausea and diarrhea that worsened until his organs failed and he died on June 2.
The demise of Entezari and Aghamolaei follow a series of mysterious Iranian deaths — including that of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, who was gunned down by men on a motorcycle on May 22, according to The Times of Israel.
Khodaei reportedly was involved in killings and abductions outside Iran and has targeted Israelis.
Two Revolutionary Guard air force officers, involved in developing weapons for Hezbollah in Lebanon, were also killed over the weekend, the Jerusalem Post reported Tuesday.
Iranian officials said in a statement that Mohammad Abdous and Ali Kamani died in separate accidents, but the Saudi-backed outlet Iran International disputed that, the Israeli report said.
Israel has been adamant about preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons and has called on the international community to continue to pressure Tehran.
But Iran has accelerated its uranium enrichment since former President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the 2015 nuclear deal inked between Iran and five other world powers: Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain.
Talks between Iranian and Biden administration officials to revive that deal have stalled.