[News] Top Iranian nuclear scientist assassinated near Tehran

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Nov 27 16:28:00 EST 2020

*Top Iranian nuclear scientist assassinated near Tehran*

Iranian foreign minister condemns killing of nuclear scientist Mohsen
Fakhrizadeh as an ‘act of state terror’.
[image: Photo released by Fars News Agency shows the scene where Mohsen
Fakhrizadeh was killed in Absard, a small city just east of Tehran, Iran
[Fars News Agency via AP]]
Photo released by Fars News Agency shows the scene where Mohsen Fakhrizadeh
was killed in Absard, a small city just east of Tehran, Iran [Fars News
Agency via AP]
27 Nov 2020

High-ranking Iranian nuclear physicist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, named by the
West as leading the Islamic Republic’s military nuclear programme until its
disbanding in the early 2000s, has been assassinated in an ambush near

Fakhrizadeh was shot “by terrorists” in his vehicle in Absard, a suburb in
eastern Tehran, and he later succumbed to his injuries in what amounted to
a “martyr’s death”, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

Local authorities had confirmed Fakhrizadeh’s death several hours earlier
and also said that several attackers were killed.

Fakhrizadeh served as the head of the Research and Innovation Organisation
of the defence ministry at the time of his death.

Iran’s foreign minister alleged the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh bore
“serious indications” of an Israeli role, but did not elaborate.

Israel declined to immediately comment on the killing of Fakhrizadeh, whom
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once called out in a news
conference saying: “Remember that name.”

Israel has long been suspected of carrying out a series of targeted
killings of Iranian nuclear scientists nearly 10 years ago.
Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was ‘assassinated’ on Friday, state
television said [Fars News Agency via AP]Photos and video shared online
showed a Nissan sedan with bullet holes through windshield and blood pooled
on the road.

The semiofficial Fars News Agency said witnesses heard the sound of an
explosion and then machine gun fire. The attack targeted the car
Fakhrizadeh was travelling in, the agency said.

Those wounded, including Fakhrizadeh’s bodyguards, were taken to a local
hospital, the agency said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Al Jazeera’s Assed Baig, reporting from Tehran, said that according to Fars
News Agency, Fakhrizadeh “came under attack by three-four unknown

“They also say three-four people were killed in that incident,” Baig said.

“We have had the head of the Revolutionary Guard say that assassinating
nuclear scientists is an attempt by hegemonic powers to stop Iran from
gaining new sciences.”
A handout photo made available by Iran state TV IRIB shows the damage after
an attack on the car of scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh near the capital,
Tehran [IRIB/AFP] ‘Serious indications’ of Israeli role

Iran’s foreign minister called on the international community to condemn
“this act of state terror”.

“Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today. This cowardice –
with serious indications of Israeli role – shows desperate warmongering of
perpetrators,” Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter on Friday.

Fakhrizadeh, 63, had been a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and was an
expert in missile production. Fars said that is why Israeli secret services
had long sought to eliminate him for many years.

A military adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused
Israel of killing Fakhrizadeh to try to provoke a war.

“In the last days of the political life of their … ally [US President
Donald Trump], the Zionists (Israel) seek to intensify pressure on Iran and
create a full-blown war,” commander Hossein Dehghan tweeted.

He said Fakhrizadeh’s work will continue to be a “nightmare” for Iran’s
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, right, sits in a meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah
Ali Khamenei in Tehran, Iran, in January 2019 [Office of the Iranian
Supreme Leader via AP]Fakhrizadeh was one of “the people who are fighting
without any claims behind the scenes of political battles and achieved
martyrdom in this path”, Dehghan tweeted.

The US Pentagon declined to comment on reports of the attack.
‘More detrimental to Iran’s antagonists’

Mohammad Marandi, a professor at the University of Tehran, told Al Jazeera
that the assassination “is going to make Iranians more assertive when it
comes to dealing with its antagonists” and that it was too late for hostile
entities to do anything about Iran’s nuclear programme.

“Fifty years ago, if they carried out this attack it would’ve had an
impact. But now Iran’s nuclear programme is developed, it’s highly diverse.
It has many young scientists and these murders will be more detrimental to
Iran’s antagonists, I believe, than Iran,” Marandi said.

“[Fakharizadeh] was one of the first generation of people in Iran who
helped develop nuclear technology.”

Fakhrizadeh led Iran’s so-called Amad (Hope) programme. Israel and the West
have alleged it was a military operation looking at the feasibility of
building a nuclear weapon in Iran. Tehran has long maintained its nuclear
programme is peaceful.

The International Atomic Energy Agency says the Amad programme ended in the
early 2000s. Its inspectors now monitor Iranian nuclear sites.

The assassination comes as Trump, who has been fervently backed by Israel
in his “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran, is slated to leave office in
less than two months after losing the presidential election to Democrat Joe

In recent weeks, multiple reports by American media have said, citing
unnamed sources, that Trump has been seriously considering a military
attack on Iran, even on its main nuclear site in Natanz.

In May 2018, Trump unilaterally withdrew from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with
world powers and imposed harsh economic sanctions that have only escalated

In the first European reaction to Fakhrizadeh’s assassination, Carl Bildt,
co-chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations, said the attack may
be related to Biden’s promise to return to the nuclear deal.

“It’s not unlikely that this targeted killing was part of efforts to
prevent the Biden administration from reviving diplomacy with Iran and
going back to the nuclear agreement,” he tweeted.

In the past year, the Trump administration has also tried to make it harder
for a Biden administration to come back to the nuclear accord through
retargeting Iranian entities and individuals that were already sanctioned
with new terrorism-related designations.

Friday’s assassination marks the second high-profile targeted killing of a
top Iranian official after IRGC Quds Force chief General Qassem Soleimani’s
killing in a US air strike in January this year.

Hillary Mann Leverett, founder of political consultancy group Stratega,
said while the killing was not as “shocking” as that of Soleimani’s
assassination, it was still “very disturbing”.

“It is certainly one of the most high-level assassinations we have seen in
the past year,” she told Al Jazeera over Skype from Mclean, Virginia.

“I think it is intended to stoke tensions particularly in this interim
period between the current administration and the Biden administration.”

“The Trump administration have openly said that they will exert what they
call ‘maximum pressure’ in its most maximum essence between now and when
they have to leave office on January 20,” Leverett said.

Iran has previously called the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure”
strategy an instance of “economic and medical terrorism”.
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