Top Iranian nuclear scientist assassinated

Iran’s leading scientist Mohsin Fakhrizade is seen in Iran in this illiterate photo.

Vanna | Via Reuters

WASHINGTON – A top Iranian nuclear scientist was murdered near Tehran, Iran’s government confirmed on Friday, alleging that Israel was behind the killing so far without presenting evidence.

According to reports not independently confirmed by NBC News, Mohsin Fakhrizade wounded the “father of Iranian bombs,” from being wounded after firing at his car.

State media shared pictures of a black Nissan sedan with several bullet holes through the windshield and blood on the road next to the car door. No group claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack.

One scene depicts the attack that killed prominent Iranian scientist Mohsin Fakhrizadeh outside Tehran, Iran on November 27, 2020.

Vanna via Reuters

Iranian Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif condemned the killing on Twitter and accused it of “serious signs” of Israeli involvement.

Iran’s top army commander, Abdolrahim Mousavi, said the Islamic Republic had reserved the right to take revenge by blaming the US and Israel for the scientific assassination.

Fakhrizadeh’s death comes before the 10-year anniversary of the killing of Iranian nuclear scientist Majid Shahri, in which Iran also accused Israel.

The Israeli embassy in Washington, DC, did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

The Pentagon, the State Department and the National Security Council declined to comment. President Donald Trump, however, retweeted a news article and comment about Fakhrizadeh’s death.

Known of the very low-ranking Revolutionary Guard officer, Fakhrizadeh, has long been seen as Iran’s top nuclear scientist overseeing the regime’s secret weapons programs.

In 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of developing nuclear weapons, saying Fakhrizadeh was working on “special projects” within Iran’s Ministry of Defense.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu states on a screen with the image of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsin Fakhrizadeh during a news conference at the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv, Israel on April 30, 2018.

Amir Cohen | Reuters

“Remember that name, Fakhrizadeh,” Netanyahu said at the time.

Fakhrizadeh’s death is expected to increase tensions between Iran and the United States, which have escalated after Washington’s exit from Washington’s nuclear deal under the Trump administration.

Deadlock with Iran

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech on January 10, 2019, during a ceremony in Tehran, Iran.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The 2015 Comprehensive Comprehensive Action Plan, or JCPOA Agreement, brokered by the Obama administration, lifted sanctions on Iran that crippled its economy and nearly halved its oil exports. In return for sanctions relief, Iran accepted the limits of its nuclear program until its end in 2025.

In 2018, the Trump administration withdrew the United States from JCPOA. Trump called it “the worst deal ever”.

The president has previously said he wants to reach a comprehensive agreement with Iran that imposes tighter borders on its nuclear and ballistic missile work and suppresses the regime’s role in regional proxy wars. Tehran has refused to negotiate while US sanctions remain unchanged.

After Washington’s exit from the nuclear deal, the other signatories of the agreement — Germany, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China — tried to keep the agreement alive.

In October, the United States re-enforced UN sanctions on Tehran through a unilateral process, which other members of the United Nations Security Council previously said Washington did not have the right to do as it did in 2018 of nuclear The agreement was withdrawn.

Relations between the US and Iran declined further following the attacks in the Persian Gulf in the summer of 2019.

In June, US officials said the Iranian surface-to-air missile shot down a US military surveillance drone on the Strait of Hormuz. Iran said the aircraft was on its territory.

The strike comes a week after the US blamed it for attacks on two oil tankers in the Persian Gulf region and attacked four tankers in May.

The US blamed the shooting of drones on new sanctions imposed on Iranian military leaders in June. The measures were intended to block financial res for Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Tensions rose again in September of last year when the US blamed Iran for an attack on Saudi Arabia on the world’s largest crude oil processing plant and oil field.

That attack forced the state to halve its production operations and triggered the largest spike in crude oil prices in decades and renewed concerns of a new war in the Middle East. Iran says it was not behind the attacks.

Earlier this year, the US carried out an airstrike that killed Iran’s top military commander, Kassem Soleimani.

Iranian mourning meetings take place during the funeral procession of top general Qasim Solimani, who was killed in his hometown of Carman on 7 January 2020.

Atta Canre | AFP | Getty Images

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