Israel, Iran trade barbs over suicide attack on Bulgaria bus

A truck carries the bus damaged by the suicide bomb blast which targeted a group of Israeli tourists, at the airport in Bourgas, Bulgaria, on July 19, 2012.

(AP) UNITED NATIONS - Iran called Israeli allegations that it was responsible for last week's suicide bombing of a bus carrying Israeli tourists in Bulgaria "baseless" on Wednesday and accused Israel of carrying out a terrorist operation.

Israel's deputy U.N. ambassador Haim Waxman called the allegation by Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee "appalling but not surprising" since it came from the same government that says the 9/11 attack was a conspiracy theory and denies the Holocaust.

Israel accuses Iran of developing atomic weapons and has repeatedly hinted it is prepared to strike Iranian nuclear targets if Tehran does not curb its suspect program. Iran denies it is trying to develop nuclear weapons and says its nuclear program is designed to produce nuclear energy.

Waxman raised the issue of the Bulgarian bombing during a U.N. Security Council debate on the Mideast, accusing Iran and Hezbollah of responsibility for the bombing that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver. He also blamed Iran and Hezbollah for terrorist attacks and attempted attacks in recent months in India, Azerbaijan, Thailand, Kenya, Turkey and Cyprus that targeted Israelis.

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When he took the floor, Khazaee insisted that "we have never and will not engage in such a despicable attempt on the lives of innocent people."

"Such terrorist operation could only be planned and carried out by the same regime whose short history is full of state terrorism operations and assassinations aimed at implicating others for narrow political gains," he said.

Khazaee said he could provide many examples showing that Israel "killed its own citizens and innocent Jewish people during the last couple of decades in order to blame others."

"Iran is a victim of such operations and the assassinations of Iran's nuclear scientists are fresh cases in our mind," he said.

Tehran claims Israel's Mossad spy agency has been behind the slayings of at least five nuclear scientists since 2010, as well as other clandestine operations such as planting powerful computer viruses.

Waxman reiterated in a statement after the council meeting ended that "Iran's fingerprints are all over last week's horrific attack in Bulgaria — and in dozens of other terrorist plots in recent months that span five continents and at least 24 countries."

"The time has come for the world to put an end to this campaign of terror, once and for all," he said.

Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said Tuesday that a sophisticated group of conspirators was involved in the bombing. He did not give any numbers or nationalities of those believed to be responsible but described them as "exceptionally skilled" and said they "observed absolute secrecy."