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The most senior Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was murdered near the capital Tehran, the country’s Ministry of Defense has confirmed.

Fakhrizadeh died in hospital after an attack in Absard, Damavand county.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has condemned the murder “as an act of state terror”.

Western intelligence services see the secret Iranian nuclear weapons program in Fakhrizadeh.

He was reportedly referred to as the “father of the Iranian bomb” by diplomats.

The news of the killing comes amid new concerns about the increased amount of enriched uranium Iran is producing. Enriched uranium is an essential component of both civil nuclear power and military nuclear weapons.

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Iran insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Four Iranian nuclear scientists were murdered between 2010 and 2012, and Iran has accused Israel of complicity in the murders.

Fakhrizadeh’s name was explicitly mentioned in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s presentation on Iran’s nuclear program in May 2018.

What happened?

In a statement on Friday, the Iranian Defense Ministry said: “Armed terrorists have targeted a vehicle carrying Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the head of the ministry’s research and innovation organization.

“After a clash between the terrorists and his bodyguards, Mr. Fakhrizadeh was seriously injured and taken to hospital.

“Unfortunately, the medical team’s efforts to save him were unsuccessful and he passed away a few minutes ago.”

According to Iranian media reports, the attackers opened fire on the scientist in his car.

Image rightsEPAImage descriptionFakrizadeh was wounded in the attack and later died in hospital, Iran said

The Fars news agency previously reported that a car explosion had occurred in the city of Absard. Witnesses reported that “three to four people believed to have been terrorists were killed”.

What was the reaction like?

“Terrorists murdered a distinguished Iranian scientist today,” the Iranian foreign minister said in a tweet.

“This cowardice – with serious references to the role of Israel – shows the desperate warmongering of the perpetrators.”

Mr. Zarif called on the international community to “condemn this act of state terror”.

The commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has declared that Iran will avenge the murder of the scientist.

Who Was Mohsen Fakhrizadeh?

Fakhrizadeh is the best-known Iranian nuclear scientist and senior officer of the elite corps of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

Western security forces have long described him as extremely powerful and instrumental in the Iranian weapons program.

According to secret documents Israel received in 2018, he headed the Iranian nuclear weapons creation program.

“Do you remember that name,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he identified Fakhrizedeh as the lead scientist in the program.

In 2015, the New York Times compared him to J. Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist who led the Manhattan Project that produced the first nuclear weapons during World War II.

There was no comment from Israel on the news of the assassination.

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Related topics

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  • Iran
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