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Iran lashes out at West over slaying, but hints at diplomatic opening

Published Jan. 14, 2012

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran on Friday hurled new threats of retaliation against the West for the assassination of one of its nuclear scientists, but also signaled a readiness to negotiate on at least one of the nuclear disputes behind the country's worsening feud with the United States.

Even as angry throngs swarmed the memorial services for slain scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, state-run news media confirmed a visit to the country this month by a special U.N. delegation to discuss alleged secret research by Iran on designing a nuclear warhead. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which will dispatch its delegation to Tehran on Jan. 28, has been pressing Iranian leaders for years to come clean about experiments.

Iran's invitation to the IAEA was the first conciliatory gesture since the country's leaders threatened last month to block the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for economic sanctions. But Western diplomats and nuclear experts on Friday expressed skepticism about the meeting, saying Iran may be trying to buy more time for its production of nuclear fuel.

In Tehran, thousands of angry Iranians demonstrated against the United States and Israel during a burial procession for Roshan, 32, a chemistry expert and a director of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in central Iran, who was assassinated in broad daylight Wednesday in Tehran.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, blamed the CIA and the Mossad, Israel's spy agency, which has added to growing tension between Tehran and Washington.