DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Killed an Iranian scientist named by the West as the leader of the Islamic Republic’s disbanded military nuclear program in an ambush on the outskirts of Cow, authorities said.
The Iranian foreign minister said the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh contained “serious signs” of Israeli involvement, but did not elaborate. Israel, which had long been suspected of killing several Iranian nuclear scientists a decade ago, declined to comment immediately. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once told the public to “remember that name” when he talks about Fakhrizadeh.
Murder could cause further tensions in the Middle East, almost a year after Iran and the United States stood on the brink of war when an American drone strike killed one of Baghdad’s top Iranian generals. It happens just as President-elect Joe Biden is ready for the inauguration in January and is likely to hamper his efforts to get America back on a pact to ensure Iran doesn’t have enough heavily enriched uranium to make nuclear weapons.
This agreement, under which Iran limited its uranium enrichment in exchange for lifting economic sanctions, was completely dismantled after President Donald Trump resigned from the agreement in 2018.
Trump himself retweeted the post on the murder of Israeli journalist Yossi Melman, an expert on the Israeli Mossad intelligence service. Melman’s tweet called the murder “a major psychological and professional blow to Iran”.
The details of the murder were meager in the hours following the attack, which took place in Absard, a village east of the capital, a retreat for the Iranian elite. Iranian state television reported that an old truck had exploded near a sedan carrying Fakhrizadehet with explosives hidden under tree trunks.
As soon as Fakhrizadeh’s sedan stopped, at least five gunmen showed up and raked the car with a rapid fire, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.
Fakhrizadeh died in a hospital after doctors and ambulances were unable to resuscitate him. Others wounded included Fakhrizadeh’s bodyguards. Photos and videos shared on the internet showed that a Nissan sedan with bullet holes in the windshield and on the road had blood collected.
While no one took responsibility for the attack, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif pointed to Israel and called the murder “state terror”.
“Terrorists have murdered an excellent Iranian scientist today. This cowardice – along with serious indications of Israel’s role – shows the desperate warming of the perpetrators, ”Zarif wrote on Twitter.
Hossein Dehghan, an adviser to Iran’s top leader and presidential candidate in the 2021 Iranian election, also blamed Israel – and issued a warning.
“In the last days of the political life of their gambling ally, the Zionists want to step up and step up the pressure on Iran to keep a full war,” Dehghan wrote, seemingly referring to Trump’s last days in office. “We will descend like lightning on the killers of this oppressed martyr and we will regret them for their actions!”
The attack came a few days before the tenth anniversary of the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Majid Shahriari, which Tehran also blamed on Israel. This and other targeted killings took place at a time when the so-called Stuxnet virus, thought to be an Israeli and American creation, destroyed Iranian centrifuges.
The area around Absard, which overlooks Damavand Mountain, the highest peak in the country, is full of holiday villas. The roads were more empty than normal on Friday, part of the Iranian weekend, due to the closure of the coronavirus epidemic and offered attackers a chance to strike with fewer people.
Fakhrizadeh led Iran’s so-called AMAD program, about which Israel and the West allegedly conducted a military operation examining the feasibility of building a nuclear weapon. Tehran has long maintained its nuclear program for civilian purposes only.
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, until the end of 2003, Iran had carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device under a “structured program”. It was the AMAD program that involved the work of carefully timed high explosives. detonated an explosive atomic bomb.
Before 2005 and between 2005 and 2009, Iran also “performed computer modeling of a nuclear explosive device,” the IAEA said. However, the agency said these calculations were “incomplete and fragmented”.
IAEA inspectors are now monitoring Iran’s nuclear sites as part of the ongoing nuclear deal with world powers. Experts believe Iran has enough enriched uranium to produce at least two nuclear weapons if it decides to continue the bomb. Meanwhile, the advanced centrifuge assembly plant at Iran’s Natanz nuclear power plant exploded in July in Tehran, now known as a sabotage attack..
Born in 1958, Fakhrizadeh has been sanctioned by the UN Security Council and the United States for his work at AMAD. Iran has always described him as a professor of university physics. A member of the Revolutionary Guard, Fakhrizadehet, could be seen in pictures at meetings where the sign of his power was Ali Khamenei, Iran’s top leader Ayatollah.
In recent years, U.S. sanctions have listed him as head of Iran’s Defense Innovation and Research Organization. The State Department described this organization last year as “working on dual-use research and development activities whose aspects are potentially useful for nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons delivery systems”.
In 2018, Netanyahu gave a lecture in what he known as material stolen by Israel from an Iranian nuclear archive..
“A key part of the plan was to create new organizations to continue the work,” Netanyahu said. “Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, project manager at Amad, put it this way. Remember that name, Fakhrizadeh.
Associated press writers Amir Vahdat and Mohammad Nasiri from Tehran (Iran) and Deb Riechmann (Washington) contributed to the report.