Iran vows to avenge killing of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh

Iran has vowed revenge after one of its leading scientists was assassinated.
Iran has vowed revenge after one of its leading scientists was assassinated. Credit: AP

Iran has vowed to avenge the death of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, one of the country's leading nuclear scientists, after he killed in a shootout.

Fakhrizadeh, who Israel claimed led Iran's nuclear weapons programme, died near the Iranian capital of Tehran on Friday.

Iran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.

Hossein Dehghan, a presidential candidate in the 2021 election and adviser to the supreme leader, said Iran will "descend like lightning" on those responsible and echoed an earlier claim that Israel was behind the attack.

“In the last days of their gambling ally’s political life, the Zionists seek to intensify and increase pressure on Iran to wage a full-blown war,” Mr Dehghan wrote, appearing to refer to US President Donald Trump’s last days in office.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed near Tehran.

“We will descend like lightning on the killers of this oppressed martyr and we will make them regret their actions!”

Tehran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had suggested Israel was behind the attack, in which he said “Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist”.

Hossein Dehghan has previously warned that any American attack on the Islamic Republic could set off a “full-fledged war” in the Middle East Credit: Vahid Salemi/AP

“This cowardice — with serious indications of Israeli role — shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators,” Mr Zarif tweeted.

“Iran calls on the international community—and especially EU—to end their shameful double standards & condemn this act of state terror.”

Israel declined to immediately comment on the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu once mentioned 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 a decade ago.

State TV Friday cited sources confirming the death.

It said it would offer more information shortly.

Iran’s mission to the UN, meanwhile, described Fakhrizadeh’s recent work as “development of the first indigenous COVID-19 test kit” and overseeing Tehran’s efforts at making a possible coronavirus vaccine.

  • Impact and ramifactions of Fakhrizadeh’s killing explained

The semi-official Fars news agency, believed to be close to the country’s Revolutionary Guard, said the attack happened in Absard, a small city just east of the capital, Tehran.

It said witnesses heard the sound of an explosion and then machine gun fire.

The attack targeted a car that Mr Fakhrizadeh was in, the agency said.

State television on its website later published a photograph of security forces blocking off the road.

Mr Fakhrizadeh led Iran’s so-called Amad, or Hope programme.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed in an apparent ambush in Absard, a small city just east of Tehran Credit: Fars News Agency/AP

Israel and the West have alleged it was a military operation looking at the feasibility of building a nuclear weapon in Iran.

Tehran long has maintained its nuclear programme is peaceful.

Mr Trump, who imposed sanctions on Iran this year, has been vocally critical of the nuclear programme. On Friday, he posted three re-tweets about the case without comment, including one in Hebrew.

The International Atomic Energy Agency says that Amad programme ended in the early 2000s.

IAEA inspectors now monitor Iranian nuclear sites as part of Iran’s now-unravelling nuclear deal with world powers.