Iran’s most senior nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh has been assassinated near the capital Tehran. Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has blamed the Israeli role and urged the international community to condemn the act of ‘state terror’ by Israel.
According to semi-government Fars News Agency, witnesses heard the sound of an explosion and then machine gunfire. The attack targeted the Nissan sedan that Fakhrizadeh was travelling in. Photos and videos shared online shows a bullet hole through windshield and blood pooled on the road.
Zarif took to Twitter to write, “Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today. This cowardice—with serious indications of Israeli role—shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators. Iran calls on int’l community—and especially EU—to end their shameful double standards & condemn this act of state terror.”
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was attacked in Absard in Damavand county, died in hospital. The scientist was reportedly behind a secret Iranian nuclear weapons programme. Regarded as the father of the Iranian nuclear programme, Fakhrizadeh was specifically mentioned in Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s presentation about Iran’s nuclear programme in April 2018.
One Western diplomat told Reuters news agency in 2014, “If Iran ever chose to weaponise (enrichment), Fakhrizadeh would be known as the father of the Iranian bomb.”
The commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has said that Iran will avenge the killing of the scientist. “Assassination of nuclear scientists is the most obvious violation of the global hegemony to prevent our access to modern sciences,” Maj Gen Hossein Salami was quoted by the BBC.
Netanyahu had told an audience in 2018 that his country had obtained thousands of documents confirming Iran’s secret nuclear programme aimed at making bombs. He had asked people to ‘remember’ Fakhrizadeh’s name.
The New York Times compared Fakhrizadeh to J Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist who directed the Manhattan Project that during World War Two produced the first atomic weapons.