ASSASSINATION OF TOP IRAN NUKE SCIENTIST BLAMED ON ISRAEL
An Iranian scientist long suspected by the West of masterminding a secret nuclear bomb program was killed in an ambush near Tehran on Friday that could provoke confrontation between Iran and its foes in the last weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency, Parisa Hafezi reported for Reuters.
The death of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who Iranian media said died in hospital after assassins gunned him down in his car, will also complicate any effort by US President-elect Joe Biden to revive the detente of Barack Obama’s presidency. Iran pointed the finger at Israel, while implying the killing had the blessing of the departing Trump. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter of “serious indications of (an) Israeli role.” Fakhrizadeh has been described by Western and Israeli intelligence services for years as the mysterious leader of a covert atomic bomb program halted in 2003, which Israel and the US accuse Tehran of trying to restore. Iran has long denied seeking to weaponize nuclear energy.
The military adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed to strike as thunder at the killers of this oppressed martyr. “In the last days of the political life of their ... ally (Trump), the Zionists seek to intensify pressure on Iran and create a full-blown war,” Hossein Dehghan tweeted. Channels of the Telegram encrypted messaging app believed to be close to Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards reported that the top security body, the Supreme National Security Council, had convened an emergency meeting with senior military commanders present. The semi-official news agency Tasnim said “terrorists blew up another car” before firing on a vehicle carrying Fakhrizadeh and his bodyguards in an ambush outside the capital.
There was silence from foreign capitals. Israel declined to comment. The White House, Pentagon, US State Department and CIA also declined to comment, as did Biden’s transition team.