Iran’s supreme leader has called for the « final punishment » of those behind the murder of one of the country’s top scientists identified by Israel as the head of a secret nuclear weapons program.
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Tehran’s nuclear strategy, was killed on Friday on a motorway near the capital in a carefully planned attack that seriously escalated tensions in the Middle East.
Iran accused its archenemy Israel of carrying out the attack. Israel expected a response and put its global messages on high alert on Saturday, Hebrew-language media reported.
In a statement, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described Fakhrizadeh as « the country’s prominent and respected nuclear and defensive scientist ». .
Iran’s first priority after the murder is the « definitive punishment of the perpetrators and those who ordered them ». . He didn’t elaborate on it.
During a meeting of his government’s coronavirus task force, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani accused Israel and reiterated that Fakhrizadeh’s death would not stop the country’s nuclear program, which he believed was non-military and energy-driven.
« Once again, the evil hands of global arrogance have been stained with the blood of the mercenary-usurper Zionist regime, » Rouhani said in a statement.
Over the past decade, Iran has accused Israel of killing at least five of its nuclear scientists, despite the fact that Fakhrizadeh is considered the oldest and best known.
« We will respond in good time to the murder of the martyr Fakhrizadeh, » said Rouhani.
During the past hostilities, Iran’s representative in Lebanon, Hezbollah, has carried out strikes against Israeli targets.
Iran later informed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the UN Security Council in a letter that there were « serious indications of Israeli responsibility » and that it had reserved the right « to take all necessary measures to defend itself To seize the people « . .
An adviser to Supreme Leader Khamenei, Hossein Dehghan, said Tehran will « attack the murderers of this oppressed martyr as thunder and make them regret their action ». .
An Israeli military spokesman said he would « not comment on reports on reports in the foreign media » while the country’s prime minister’s office also remained silent.
Israel has been accused of using the last few weeks of the Trump administration to take action. The US president is generally seen in Israel as more tolerant of his political and military ambitions than President-elect Joe Biden.
To Israel’s dismay, Biden has announced that he is ready to rejoin the Iranian nuclear deal that Trump has abandoned and to lift some economic sanctions if Iran complies with the deal. Israel and the regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia want the US to stay outside the deal and continue Trump’s policy of maximum economic sanctions.
Amos Yadlin, former chief of intelligence in the Israel Defense Forces, said without pointing out who was killed on Friday: « With the window of opportunity for Trump, such a move could lead Iran to a violent response that is an excuse for one of US-led attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. ”
John Brennan, former head of the CIA under Barack Obama, described the attack as a « criminal and highly ruthless act » that could trigger retaliation. « Iranian leaders would be wise to wait for responsible American leadership to return to the global stage and resist the urge to react against alleged culprits, » he tweeted.
Fakhrizadeh was ambushed with explosives and machine gun fire in the city of Absard, 70 km east of Tehran. Efforts to resuscitate him in the hospital failed. His bodyguard and family members were also wounded.
Fakhrizadeh has for years been described by Western and Israeli intelligence agencies as the leader of a covert nuclear bomb program that was discontinued in 2003. He was a central figure in a presentation by Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu in 2018 accusing Iran of continuing to search for nuclear weapons. « Do you remember that name, Fakhrizadeh, » said Netanyahu during the presentation.
He accused Iran at the time of hiding and expanding its nuclear weapons expertise, saying Israeli intelligence had received half a ton of cache of nuclear archive material from the country. Iran has always denied having any interest in developing nuclear weapons.
In the final months of Trump’s presidency, Israel has made peace with Arab Gulf states that share its hostility towards Iran. Netanyahu traveled to Saudi Arabia this month and met his crown prince on the first reported visit by an Israeli leader, according to Israeli officials.
Iran, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Israel
World News – AU – Supreme Iranian leader calls for « final punishment » for the murderers of scientists
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