Iranian physicist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the alleged head of Iran’s nuclear program, was shot and killed in a purported assassination near Tehran, said the country’s Ministry of Defense.
The Iranian Ministry of Defense confirmed Fakhrizadeh was “was severely wounded in the course of clashes between his security team and terrorists and was transferred to hospital,” according to Iranian state-run media. He later died from his wounds.
No groups have claimed responsibility for the incident.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote that Israel allegedly had a role in the assassination plot, without elaborating.
He wrote on Twitter “terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today. This cowardice—with serious indications of Israeli role—shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators.”
Zarif then accused the European Union and the “international community” of engaging in a “shameful double standard.”
Iranian state media also reported on Friday morning that Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated near the capital city of Tehran by unidentified “terrorists” after a fierce battle with his security team.
Fakhrizadeh was described as the “father of the Iranian bomb” in a famous 2018 presentation by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Iran’s Tasnim news agency quoted a statement from the Defense Ministry that said “armed terrorist elements” attacked Fakhrizadeh’s car on Friday, severely wounding him during a firefight with his bodyguards.
According to Tasnim, the injured nuclear scientist was taken to a hospital, where “efforts by the medial teams to resuscitate the Iranian scientist failed and he was martyred.”
Tasnim reported explosives were used in the attack and “a number of people have been killed in the incident,” possibly including relatives of Fakhrizadeh who were traveling with him.
Iran’s Fars news agency says the attack included “an explosion and machine gun fire.”
“Eyewitness accounts confirmed that Fakhrizadeh’s car came under attack first by a blast and then by two terrorist teams who sprayed bullets at his car as they moving in opposite directions. Eyewitnesses also said three to four individuals, most likely all terrorists, have been killed in the attack,” Fars reported, stating that at least two other dead bodies were spotted at the hospital.
Iran’s PressTV quoted Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif claiming there was evidence of Israeli involvement in the attack.
“Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today. This cowardice – with serious indications of an Israeli role – shows the desperate warmongering of the perpetrators,” Zarif said on Twitter.
Western intelligence agencies had considered Fakhrizadeh the chief architect of Iran’s controversial nuclear program who was potentially overseeing the development of a nuclear weapon on behalf of the regime. Iranian officials have long insisted that the country’s nuclear program is for strictly peaceful purposes.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps commander said on Twitter that Iran will get revenge for the killing.
“We will strike as thunder at the killers of this oppressed martyr and will make them regret their action,” commander Hossein Dehghan, who is also a military adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, wrote after the incident.
Some local reports suggested that suicide bombers may have been involved in the incident, although it’s not clear.
Fakhrizadeh was a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) officer and was also a professor of physics at the Imam Hussein University in Tehran. Some analysts suggested that his death is as momentous as the death of Iran’s Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani earlier this year, which prompted Tehran to launch a volley of missiles at U.S. assets in Iraq.
Fakhrizadeh was even mentioned by name by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2018. At the time, Netanyahu said people should “remember that name” after Israeli intelligence agency Mossad found the files from Iran’s nuclear archives, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Reports in 2015 described the scientist as the Iranian version of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the American physicist who directed the Manhattan Project that produced the first atomic weapons for the United States during World War II.
Israel has not commented on the incident.
(Source: The Epoch Times)