Suspected foreign agents assassinated Iran’s most senior nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh near Tehran, the country’s defence ministry said today.
Fakhrizadeh died in hospital after this attack in Damavand county’s Absard.
Foreign Minister of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif, has condemned the killing “as an act of state terror”.
Western intelligence agencies considered Fakhrizadeh the brain behind Iran’s secret nuclear weapons programme. Diplomats described him as the “father of the Iranian bomb”.
As the West lost its sleep over the increased amount of enriched uranium that Iran is producing, a group seems to have been set for the task to eliminate Fakhrizadeh. Enriched uranium is a vital component in harnessing civilian as well as military nuclear energy.
Between 2010 and 2012, they killed four Iranian nuclear scientists even as Iran accused Israel of complicity in the murders.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had specifically mentioned the name of Fakhrizadeh in his presentation about Iran’s nuclear programme in May 2018.
In a statement today, Iran’s defence ministry said, “Armed terrorists targeted a vehicle carrying Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, head of the ministry’s research and innovation organisation. After a clash between the terrorists and his bodyguards, Mr 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 reported that the attackers had opened fire on the scientist in his car.
Fars news agency had earlier reported there was a car explosion in Absard. Witnesses said that “three to four individuals, who are said to have been terrorists, were killed”.
Reactions to assassination of Fakhrizadeh
“Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today,” Iran’s foreign minister said in a tweet. “This cowardice — with serious indications of Israeli role — shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators.”
Zarif appealed to the international community to “condemn this act of state terror”.
The commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said Iran would avenge the scientist.
Fakhrizadeh was the best known Iranian nuclear scientist. He was also a senior officer at the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Western security sources viewed him as extremely powerful and instrumental in Iran’s weapons programme.
Secret documents dug out by Israel in 2018 show he had led the programme that created Iran’s nuclear weapons.
“Remember that name,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said as he identified Fakhrizedeh as the head scientist in the programme.
In 2015, The New York Times had likened him to J Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist who directed the Manhattan Project that during World War Two produced the first atomic weapons.
There has been no comment from Israel on the news of the assassination.