Iran has vowed to avenge the killing of its most senior nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was targeted in a city near Tehran on Friday. The scientist was moved to a hospital through helicopter from Absard in, Damavand county. Hossein Dehghan, military advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei pledged to ‘strike’ the perpetrators like thunder.
Western intelligence sources believe Fakhrizadeh, an eminent scientist, was spearheading a covert Iranian nuclear weapons campaign. Iran maintains its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called on the international community to “condemn this act of state terror”.
“Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today,” he tweeted. Majid Takht Ravanchi, Iran’s UN ambassador condemning the killing said the assassination was a clear violation of international law, designed to destabilize the region. Zarif blamed Israel for the attack saying it had “serious indications of Israeli role”.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, earlier in April 2018 specifically mentioned the scientist’s name during a presentation unfolding military dimension of country’s nuclear program. Israel has not given its response on the killing of the top scientist.
Commander of IRGC: Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Major General Hossein Salami, said the “assassination of nuclear scientist is the most obvious violation of the global hegemony to prevent our access to modern sciences”.
The news of killing comes amid fresh reports revealing the increased amount of enriched uranium that the country is producing. Enriched Uranium is a key ingredient for both civil and military nuclear usage. A 2015 deal recognized as JCPOA signed between Iran and P5+1 limited the production of the enriched uranium and IAEA reported Tehran’s compliance with the agreed upon restrictions. However, after the Trump pulled US out of the deal in 2018, Iran has resumed the enrichment from where it left. Biden despite strong opposition from Israel has vowed to reengage with Iran when he takes the office.
Former head of US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), John Brennan, described the killing of the scientist as a ‘criminal’ and highly reckless” act that jeopardizes the security of the region. In a series of tweets, he said Fakhrizadeh’s death “risks lethal retaliation and a new round of regional conflict”.
Brennan added that he did not know “whether a foreign government authorized or carried out the murder of Fakhrizadeh”.
What happened to the scientist?
In a statement on Friday, Iran’s defense ministry said: “Armed terrorists targeted a vehicle carrying Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, head of the ministry’s research and innovation organization.
“After a clash between the terrorists and his bodyguards, Fakhrizadeh was severely injured and rushed to hospital.
“Unfortunately, the medical team’s efforts to save him were unsuccessful and minutes ago he passed away.”
Iranian media reports said the assailants opened fire on the scientist in his car. Fars new agency earlier reported there was a car explosion in Absard town, with witnesses reporting that “three to four individuals, who are said to have been terrorists, were killed”.