Iran: nuclear scientist assassinated, Israel singled out

A senior Iranian scientist working in the nuclear sector was assassinated on Friday near Tehran. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, head of the research and innovation department at the Ministry of Defense, was the target of an explosive and firearms attack while in his vehicle.

“Terrorists today assassinated a prominent Iranian scientist. This cowardice – with serious indications of Israel’s role – shows the desperate warmongering of its perpetrators,” tweeted Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iranian Foreign Minister. The foreign minister also called on the international community to “put an end to its shameful ambivalent positions and to condemn this terrorist act”.

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Several local media, including the Tasnim and Fars news agencies, had earlier reported an assassination attempt against the scientist in the town of Absard, east of the Iranian capital. “Terrorists blew up a car before shooting Mohsen Fakhrizadeh’s car,” they said. The ministry later added that the medical team had failed to revive him.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh had been described by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the father of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

The Iranian chief of staff, Major General Mohammad Baghéri, warned that “terrible revenge” awaited those behind the assassination of the scientist. “Terrorist groups and those responsible and perpetrators of this cowardly attempt must know that a terrible revenge awaits them,” Mohammad Baghéri tweeted, according to the state-run Irna news agency. He called the death of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh a “bitter and heavy blow”, assuring that the Iranians “will not have rest until we have hunted down and punished” those involved.

Nuclear program

The assassination comes less than two months before Democrat Joe Biden, president-elect of the Nov. 3 election in the United States, arrived at the White House.

Joe Biden intends to change his posture vis-à-vis Iran after the four years of presidency of Republican Donald Trump, who withdrew in 2018 from the agreement with the great powers signed in Vienna three years earlier on Tehran’s nuclear program. The United States then reinstated and then tightened sanctions against Iran.

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Donald Trump believes that this agreement does not offer sufficient guarantees to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Iran has always denied wanting such weaponry. The US president re-tweeted information about the assassination of the Iranian scientist on Friday, but without adding a personal comment.

Not the first assassination

Fakhrizadeh was killed the day after Thailand transferred three Iranians detained for a failed bomb attack targeting Israeli diplomats in Bangkok in 2012.

According to Tehran, this operation was done in exchange for the release on Wednesday of Australian-British researcher Kylie Moore-Gilbert.

Sentenced to ten years in prison for spying on behalf of Israel – which she has always denied – the researcher greeted Wednesday the end of her ordeal. After more than 800 days of detention, this Middle East specialist admitted that her departure from Iran would be “bitter sweet” despite the “injustices” suffered.

Several other scientists specializing in the nuclear field in Iran have been assassinated in recent years, with the Islamic Republic systematically blaming Israel.

And the American daily New York Times reported in mid-November that Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, alias Abu Mohammed al-Masri and number two in Al Qaeda, was shot dead in Tehran by Israeli agents, during a secret mission commissioned by Washington. Iran denied.

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