President Hassan Rouhani has blamed ‘mercenaries of the usurping Zionist regime’ for the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a military scientist, who was accused by Israel of leading a nuclear weapons program in Iran.
“Once again, the evil hands of global arrogance were stained with the blood … of the mercenary usurper Zionist regime,” the Iranian president said in a statement extending his condolences for the death of Fakhrizadeh. The term is used in Iran to describe the Israeli government, which Tehran does not recognize as legitimate.
Rouhani added that the assassination shows “the inability of the sworn enemies of the Iranian nation” to stop its scientific progress and “the depth of their malice and resentment”. He added that younger Iranian scientists will step up and take Fakhrizadeh’s place.
The scientist was reportedly ambushed by unidentified gunmen in his car outside of Tehran on Friday and died from his wounds in hospital. It’s still unknown who carried out the attack.
For years, Iran has accused Israel of assassinations and murder attempts of its nuclear scientists. In 2018, Fakhrizadeh was identified by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the head of a now-defunct project to produce a nuclear weapon.
Tehran denies ever trying to militarize its nuclear industry. In 2015, it agreed to accept restrictions on its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions and business opportunities under the so-called JCPOA nuclear deal.
The Trump administration sided with Israel in branding the JCPOA the “worst deal ever made” and broke it, launching instead a campaign to damage Iran with harsh economic sanctions. It also carried out the assassination of a senior Iranian general in January during his visit to Iraq, claiming that it was an act of self-defense against unspecified terrorist attacks he had been planning.
After the assassination of Fakhrizadeh, Iran warned the US and Israel against taking “adventuristic measures” during the final days of the Trump presidency.
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