Iran said one of its most prominent nuclear scientists was assassinated yesterday in an attack on his car outside Tehran that it accused arch foe Israel of being behind. The scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was “seriously wounded” when assailants targeted his car before being engaged in a gunfight with his security team, Iran’s defence ministry said in a statement.
It added that Fakhrizadeh, who headed the ministry’s research and innovation organisation, was later “martyred” after medics failed to revive him. Fakhrizadeh had been travelling in a car near Absard city in Tehran province’s eastern Damavand county.
A state television report on the assassination described him as one “of our country’s nuclear scientists” and said that Israel “had an old and deep enmity towards him”. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Javad Zarif said there were “serious indications of an Israeli role” in the scientist’s assassination. “Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today,” Zarif wrote on Twitter. “This cowardice - with serious indications of Israeli role - shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators,” he added.
He also called on the international community to “end their shameful double standards & condemn this act of state terror.”
Fakhrizadeh’s assassination comes less than two months before Joe Biden is to take office as US president. Biden has promised a return to diplomacy with Iran after four hawkish years under incumbent US President Donald Trump, who withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and began reimposing crippling sanctions. Trump said at the time that the deal known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) did not offer sufficient guarantees to stop Tehran from acquiring an atomic bomb. Iran has always denied it wants such a weapon.
Trump yesterday retweeted reports on Fakhrizadeh’s assassination, without commenting on it himself.
The killing of Fakhrizadeh is the latest in a series of assassinations of nuclear scientists in Iran in recent years that the Islamic republic has blamed Israel of carrying out.
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