Iran’s Chief of Staff, General Mohamad Bagheri, warned that a “terrible revenge” against those responsible of the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a prominent Iranian scientist specializing in the nuclear sector.
“Terrorist groups and the perpetrators of this cowardly action must know that a terrible revenge awaits them,” Bagheri tweeted, according to the state agency Irna.
He called Mohsen Fakhrizadeh’s death a “hard and bitter blow” and added that the Iranians “will not rest” until the persons involved are “persecuted and punished”.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said there were “serious indications of an Israeli role” in the scientist’s murder.
“Terrorists assassinated an eminent Iranian scientist today (Friday). This cowardice – with serious hints of the Israeli role – shows a desperate warmongering of the perpetrators,” Zarif wrote on Twitter.
The murder occurred this Friday near Tehran when Fakhrizadeh, was traveling in a car near the city of Absard and was attacked by “armed terrorists”. The victim had been described by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the father of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
Fakhrizadeh was “seriously injured” by a gunshot when the assailants attacked his car and fought his security team. Doctors tried to save his life, but he eventually died in hospital, according to the statement.
Who was Mohsen Fakhrizadeh?
The statement describes Fakhrizadeh as director of the Research and Innovation Organization of the Iranian Ministry of Defense and, according to a report by The New York Times, American and Israeli intelligence had accused him on several occasions of being behind secret programs to design an atomic warhead.
Fakhrizadeh, who according to Times has been considered the driving force behind the Iranian nuclear program for two decades, he continued to work even though the bulk of the program “quietly disbanded in the early 2000s.”
Prominent figures in Iranian politics have accused Israel of being behind the attack, as the scientist had long been the number one target of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, which would also have carried out other attacks against various Fakhrizadeh deputies.
“The terrorists today assassinated an eminent Iranian scientist. This cowardice, with serious indications of the role of Israel, shows a desperate warmongering of the perpetrators,” Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wrote on his Twitter account. “Iran calls on the international community, and especially the EU, to end its shameful double standards and condemn this act of state terror,” he added.
Earlier this week, Iran reported that it had started injecting uranium hexafluoride into centrifuges at its facilities in the city of Natanz.