Times Colonist

Ira­nian sci­en­tist linked to nu­clear pro­gram killed

- JON GAMBRELL Military · Crime · Terrorism · U.S. News · Middle East News · Politics · Nuclear Threat · Middle East Politics · Warfare and Conflicts · United Arab Emirates · Iran · Israel · Benjamin Netanyahu · United States of America · Baghdad · Joe Biden · Joe · Donald Trump · Mossad · Mohammad Javad Zarif · Twitter · Dubai · Tehran · The Killing · Hossein Dehghan

DUBAI, United Arab Emi­rates — An Ira­nian sci­en­tist named by the West as the leader of the Is­lamic Repub­lic’s dis­banded mil­i­tary nu­clear pro­gram was killed Fri­day in an am­bush on the out­skirts of Tehran, au­thor­i­ties said.

Iran’s for­eign min­is­ter al­leged the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizade­h bore “se­ri­ous in­di­ca­tions” of an Is­raeli role, but did not elab­o­rate. Is­rael, long sus­pected of killing sev­eral Ira­nian nu­clear sci­en­tists a decade ago, de­clined to im­me­di­ately com­ment. Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu once told the pub­lic to “re­mem­ber that name” when talk­ing about Fakhrizade­h.

The killing risks fur­ther rais­ing ten­sions across the Mideast, nearly a year after Iran and the U.S. stood on the brink of war when an Amer­i­can drone strike killed a top Ira­nian gen­eral in Bagh­dad. It comes just as U.S. Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Bi­den stands poised to be in­au­gu­rated in Jan­uary and will likely com­pli­cate his ef­forts to re­turn Amer­ica to a pact aimed at en­sur­ing Iran does not have enough highly en­riched ura­nium to make a nu­clear weapon.

That deal, which saw Iran limit its ura­nium en­rich­ment in ex­change for the lift­ing of eco­nomic sanc­tions, has en­tirely un­rav­elled after U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump with­drew from the ac­cord in 2018.

Trump him­self retweeted a post­ing from Is­raeli jour­nal­ist Yossi Mel­man, an ex­pert on the Is­raeli Mos­sad in­tel­li­gence ser­vice, about the killing. Mel­man’s tweet called the killing a “ma­jor psy­cho­log­i­cal and pro­fes­sional blow for Iran.”

De­tails about the slay­ing re­mained slim in the hours after the at­tack, which hap­pened in Ab­sard, a vil­lage just east of the cap­i­tal that is a re­treat for the Ira­nian elite. Ira­nian state tele­vi­sion said an old truck with ex­plo­sives hid­den un­der a load of wood blew up near a sedan car­ry­ing Fakhrizade­h.

As Fakhrizade­h’s sedan stopped, at least five gun­men emerged and raked the car with rapid fire, the semiof­fi­cial Tas­nim news agency said.

Fakhrizade­h died at a hospi­tal after doc­tors and paramedics couldn’t re­vive him. Oth­ers wounded in­cluded Fakhrizade­h’s body­guards.

Pho­tos and video shared on­line showed a Nis­san sedan with bul­let holes in the wind­shield and blood pooled on the road.

Ira­nian For­eign Min­is­ter Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif pointed the fin­ger at Is­rael, call­ing the killing an act of “state ter­ror.”

“Ter­ror­ists mur­dered an em­i­nent Ira­nian sci­en­tist to­day. This cow­ardice — with se­ri­ous in­di­ca­tions of Is­raeli role — shows des­per­ate war­mon­ger­ing of per­pe­tra­tors,” Zarif wrote on Twit­ter.

Hos­sein De­hghan, an ad­viser to Iran’s supreme leader and a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date in Iran’s 2021 elec­tion, also blamed Is­rael — and is­sued a warn­ing.

“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,” De­hghan wrote, ap­pear­ing to re­fer to Trump’s last days in of­fice. “We will descend like light­ning on the killers of this op­pressed mar­tyr and we will make them re­gret their ac­tions!”

The at­tack comes just days be­fore the 10-year an­niver­sary of the killing of Ira­nian nu­clear sci­en­tist Ma­jid Shahri­ari that Tehran also blamed on Is­rael. That and other tar­geted killings hap­pened at the time that the so-called Stuxnet virus, be­lieved to be an Is­raeli and Amer­i­can cre­ation, de­stroyed Ira­nian cen­trifuges.

 ?? OF­FICE OF THE IRA­NIAN SUPREME LEADER | FARS NEWS AGENCY, VIA AP ?? Mohsen Fakhrizade­h; the scene where he was killed in Ab­sard, a small city just east of Tehran, on Fri­day.
OF­FICE OF THE IRA­NIAN SUPREME LEADER | FARS NEWS AGENCY, VIA AP Mohsen Fakhrizade­h; the scene where he was killed in Ab­sard, a small city just east of Tehran, on Fri­day.
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