Iranian nuclear scientists have been killed

Prominent Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh can be seen in Iran in this undated photo.

WANA | through Reuters

WASHINGTON “An Iranian nuclear scientist has been killed,” the Iranian foreign ministry said on Friday.

Iranian media reports that Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was dubbed the “father of the Iranian bomb,” died of his injuries after gunmen shot down in his car, NBC News did not confirm on its own.

State media shared photos of a black Nissan sedan that had several bullet holes through the windshield and bloodshed on the road next to the car door. No group immediately took responsibility for Friday’s attack.

The view shows the location of the attack that killed prominent Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh outside Iranian Tehran on November 27, 2020.

WANA through Reuters

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif condemned the murder on Twitter and gave alleged “serious signs” of Israeli involvement.

Fakhrizadeh’s death was days before the tenth anniversary of the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Majid Shahriari, which Iran also blamed on Israel.

The Israeli embassy in Washington did not respond immediately to the CNBC’s comments.

The Pentagon declined to comment. The State Department and the National Security Council did not respond immediately to CNBC’s comments. However, President Donald Trump republished an article and commentary on Fakhrizadeh’s death.

Few know about Fakhrizadeh, a senior officer in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps who has long been regarded as Iran’s top nuclear scientist for the regime’s secret weapons programs.

In 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of continuing to develop nuclear weapons and said Fakhrizadeh was working on “special projects” within Iran’s Ministry of Defense.

“Remember that name, Fakhrizadeh,” Netanyahu said then.

Fakhrizadeh’s death is expected to further escalate tensions between Iran and the United States, which soared during the Trump administration after Washington withdrew from the landmark Iran nuclear deal.

The standout with Iran

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will give a speech at a ceremony in Tehran, Iran, on January 10, 2019.

Anadolu Agency Anadolu Agency Getty Images

The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Action Plan, mediated by the Obama administration, or the JCPOA agreement, lifted sanctions against Iran, which paralyzed its economy and roughly halved its oil exports. In return for easing sanctions, Iran has agreed to limit its nuclear program until conditions expire by 2025.

In 2018, the Trump administration withdrew the United States from the JCPOA. Trump called JCPOA the “worst deal ever.”

Trump said earlier that he wanted to reach a broader agreement with Iran that would impose stricter limits on nuclear and ballistic missile work and suppress the regime’s role in regional power-building wars. Tehran has refused to negotiate while U.S. sanctions remain in place.

After Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal, the other signatories to the pact – France, Germany, the UK, Russia and China – tried to keep the deal alive.

The United States unilaterally reintroduced UN sanctions against Tehran through a setback process in October, which other members of the UN Security Council had previously said Washington had no authority to implement because it withdrew from the nuclear treaty in 2018.

U.S.-Iran relations in the summer of 2019 brought another turn for the worse after a series of attacks in the Persian Gulf.

In June, U.S. officials said an Iranian ground-to-air missile fired a U.S. military observation drone over the Strait of Hormuz. Iran said the plane was over its territory.

The strike came a week after the United States blamed Iran for attacks on two oil tankers in the Persian Gulf region and after four tankers were attacked in May.

In June, the United States imposed new sanctions on Iranian military leaders accused of shooting the drone. The measures were also aimed at blocking Iranian financial resources from Iran’s chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Tensions escalated again last September when the United States blamed Iran for strikes in Saudi Arabia at the world’s largest oil refinery and oil field.

This attack forced the kingdom to cut its production activity in half, triggered the biggest oil peak in decades, and again worried about a new war in the Middle East. Iran maintains that it was not he who stood behind the attacks.

Earlier this year, the United States carried out an air strike in which it killed Qasem Soleimani, Iran’s top military commander.

Iranian mourners will gather in the final stage of the funeral procession of assassinated General Qasem Soleimani in his hometown of Kerman on January 7, 2020.

To contact Kenta Atta AFP | Getty Images