Top Iranian nuclear scientist assassinated
Iranian foreign ministry on Friday confirmed the assassination of a senior nuclear physicist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, has been assassinated, suggesting Israeli involvement to the murder.
Mr. Fakhrizadeh, a missile production expert and member of the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard was shot and injured “by terrorists” in his vehicle in Ab-Sard, a suburb in eastern Tehran.
Local authorities confirmed him dead hours before the foreign ministry announced his demise, describing it as a “martyr’s death.”
Fars news agency said Israeli secret services had long sought to eliminate him due to his missile expertise.
Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said there was evidence pointing to the involvement of Israel in the assassination, but it was unclear who exactly conducted the hit.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had specifically mentioned Mr. Fakhrizadeh by name in a 2018 presentation about Iran’s nuclear programme.
Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations (UN) in New York, Majid Takht Ravanchi, wrote in a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the UN Security Council on Friday that several top Iranian scientists had been killed in “terrorist attacks” over the past decade, and said “certain foreign quarters” were responsible.
He called the “cowardly” assassination of Mr. Fakhrizadeh an attempt to “wreak havoc” on the region and disrupt Iran’s development in the fields of science and technology.
Confirmation of the killing comes amid fresh concern about the amount of enriched uranium the country is producing.
Enriched uranium is a key component for both nuclear power generation and nuclear weapons.
In 2015, a deal with world powers placed limits on the production of enriched uranium, but U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the deal three years later, prompting Tehran to incrementally renege on its terms.
Earlier on Friday, Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation (AEOI) spokesman Behrus Kamalwandi caused confusion by denying reports of the death, saying, “our nuclear scientists are all well.”
The confusion arose because Mr. Fakhrizadeh had left the AEOI and had been working at the research and technological development department of the Foreign Ministry.
UN chief Guterres called for restraint after the killing.
“We have noted the reports that an Iranian nuclear scientist has been assassinated near Tehran today,” UN spokesman Farhan Haq told dpa on Friday.
“We urge restraint and the need to avoid any actions that could lead to an escalation of tensions in the region,” Mr. Haq added.
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