Scottish Daily Mail

Ira­nian nu­clear chief shot dead in am­bush

Regime points the fin­ger at Is­rael and vows ‘lightning’ re­venge

- Mail For­eign Service Military · Crime · Terrorism · U.S. News · Middle East News · Politics · Middle East Politics · Warfare and Conflicts · Iran · Tehran · Israel · Mohammad Javad Zarif · European Union · Benjamin Netanyahu · Mossad · United States of America · Robert Oppenheimer · United Nations · Council · Donald Trump · Saudi Arabia · Saudi Arabia national football team · Mohammad bin Salman · Iran Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics · Ministry of Defence · Hossein Dehghan

A SCI­EN­TIST dubbed the fa­ther of Iran’s nu­clear arms pro­gramme was as­sas­si­nated yes­ter­day.

Mohsen Fakhrizade­h, 63, was shot dead in a ve­hi­cle am­bush while trav­el­ling near Tehran with his body­guards. Ira­nian lead­ers im­me­di­ately pointed the fin­ger of blame at Is­rael and vowed re­venge.

Ac­cord­ing to state TV, the at­tack be­gan when a road­side bomb blew off one of the doors of Fakhrizade­h’s sa­loon car. Up to six gun­men wait­ing nearby sur­rounded the stranded ve­hi­cle and opened fire.

Iran’s de­fence min­istry said in a state­ment: ‘Armed ter­ror­ist el­e­ments at­tacked a car car­ry­ing Mohsen Fakhrizade­h, head of the Min­istry of De­fence’s re­search and in­no­va­tion or­gan­i­sa­tion.

‘Dur­ing the clash be­tween his se­cu­rity team and the ter­ror­ists, Mr Mohsen Fakhrizade­h was se­ri­ously in­jured and taken to hos­pi­tal. Un­for­tu­nately, the med­i­cal team did not suc­ceed in re­viv­ing him, and this man­ager and sci­en­tist, af­ter years of ef­fort and strug­gle, achieved a high de­gree of mar­tyr­dom.’

Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif, the for­eign min­is­ter, tweeted: ‘Ter­ror­ists mur­dered an em­i­nent Ira­nian sci­en­tist to­day. This cow­ardice – with se­ri­ous in­di­ca­tions of Is­raeli role – shows des­per­ate war­mon­ger­ing of per­pe­tra­tors.

‘Iran calls on in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity – and es­pe­cially EU – to end their shame­ful dou­ble stan­dards & con­demn this act of state ter­ror.’

Ira­nian mil­i­tary com­man­der Hos­sein De­hghan said: ‘We will de­scend like lightning on the killers of this op­pressed martyr and we will make them re­gret their ac­tions.’

Is­rael de­clined to com­ment on the killing of Fakhrizade­h, who was sin­gled out by Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu in a 2018 pre­sen­ta­tion ac­cus­ing Iran of con­tin­u­ing to seek nu­clear weapons. ‘ Re­mem­ber that name, Fakhrizade­h,’ the Is­raeli prime min­is­ter told those in the room.

Is­raeli se­cu­rity service Mos­sad has long been sus­pected of car­ry­ing out tar­geted killings of Ira­nian nu­clear sci­en­tists. Four were mur­dered be­tween 2010 and 2012, with Is­raeli me­dia re­port­ing that plans were in place for Fakhrizade­h be­fore it was de­cided to keep him alive and mon­i­tor him in­stead.

He was the leader of a nu­clear pro­gramme known as Amad, or Hope, which Is­rael and the West have al­leged was a mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion look­ing at the fea­si­bil­ity of build­ing an atomic weapon. The pro­gramme, which Tehran has al­ways main­tained was for peace­ful pur­poses, was halted in 2003, but Is­rael and the United States have ac­cused Iran of try­ing to re­store it in se­cret.

Fakhrizade­h had been likened to Robert Op­pen­heimer, the Amer­i­can physi­cist cred­ited with be­ing ‘the fa­ther of the atomic bomb’ dur­ing the Sec­ond World War. ‘If Iran ever chose to weaponise, Fakhrizade­h would be known as the fa­ther of the Ira­nian bomb,’ one Western diplo­mat told Reuters news agency in 2014.

A land­mark re­port by the UN nu­clear watch­dog in 2011 sug­gested Fakhrizade­h had prob­a­bly con­tin­ued his work fol­low­ing the clo­sure of Amad.

Holly Da­gres, an an­a­lyst at the At­lantic Coun­cil think­tank, said the US might be to blame. ‘The Ira­ni­ans have been watch­ing very closely in the last few weeks given that Don­ald Trump was ap­par­ently look­ing at options to strike the nu­clear pro­gramme him­self,’ the re­search fel­low said. ‘This may well have been one of the options he sought.

‘I lot of peo­ple will now be won­der­ing will the Ira­ni­ans re­tal­i­ate? I would think they will be more re­strained be­cause they know th­ese are the fi­nal days of the Trump pres­i­dency and they know he is look­ing for a fight with Iran.’

Is­rael has, with US help, been mak­ing peace with Gulf Arab states that share its hos­til­ity towards Iran. Ear­lier this week, Mr Ne­tanyahu trav­elled to Saudi Ara­bia and met its crown prince, Mo­hammed Bin Sal­man, for se­cret dis­cus­sions.

‘Threat­ened to strike back’

‘He is look­ing for a fight’

 ??  ?? Af­ter­math: The Ira­nian sci­en­tist’s car was hit by a road­side bomb yes­ter­day
Af­ter­math: The Ira­nian sci­en­tist’s car was hit by a road­side bomb yes­ter­day
 ??  ?? Prime tar­get: Mohsen Fakhrizade­h
Prime tar­get: Mohsen Fakhrizade­h

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