Dhe Iranian President Hassan Rohani has accused the United States and Israel of being behind the murder of nuclear physicist Mohsen Fakhrisadeh. “Once again imperialism and its Zionist mercenaries caused bloodshed and the death of an Iranian scientist,” said Rohani on state television on Saturday. The Iranian nation will respond “in due course”.
This “terrorist attack” only proves the fear of Tehran’s enemies about the technological progress of the Islamic Republic, the president said. However, the murder will not prevent the country from continuing along Fakhrisadeh’s path even more consistently.
Khamenei calls for punishment
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also spoke out on Saturday. His Twitter account said that Fakhrisadeh was killed by “criminal and cruel mercenaries”. Khamenei called for those responsible to be severely punished and for Fakhrisadeh’s path to be pursued further.
Iran has also blamed Israel for the attack on nuclear scientist Madschid Shahriari almost exactly ten years ago and for other targeted killings. The American newspaper “New York Times” reported on Saturday that an American official and two intelligence officials had declared that Israel was behind the attack. It is unclear whether the American government was informed beforehand, but both states are closest allies. There were reports in American media that a naval unit had been relocated to the Persian Gulf, which was justified with the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
Fakhrisadeh was shot on Friday in Ab-Sard, an eastern suburb of the capital Tehran. The Ministry of Defense in Tehran spoke of a “martyr’s death”. The nuclear physicist had been a member of the Revolutionary Guard and an expert in rocket manufacture. Most recently, Fakhrisadeh headed the Research and Technological Renewal Department in the Ministry of Defense.
With military precision
The attack on him appears to have been carefully planned and carried out with military precision. According to the Iranian state television, a bomb exploded on an old truck under a load of wood just as Fakhrisadeh’s car drove by. At least five gunmen then came out of hiding and opened fire on the car, reported the semi-official Tasnim news agency.
Iranian nuclear chief Ali-Akbar Salehi assured on Saturday that Fakhrisadeh’s assassination would neither halt nor impair the progress of the Iranian civil nuclear program. “The path of Fakhrisadeh will now be continued even more intensely,” he said.
Many Tehran observers also saw the attack as an attempt by Israel and the administration of American President Donald Trump to torpedo a new beginning in relations between Tehran and Washington. President-elect Joe Biden has announced that he will negotiate a new nuclear deal with Iran.
“That was not just an attack on the professor, but on the imminent diplomatic efforts of both countries after the assumption of office by Joe Biden,” wrote the political scientist Mohsen Milani on Twitter. The prominent Iranian journalist Sahra Asghari sees it similarly. “The attack was the price Iran had to pay for Trump’s election defeat.”