18:08 GMT27 January 2021
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    Iran's senior nuclear physicist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed on 27 November in a shooting and bombing attack in the town of Absard. No country has claimed responsibility for his killing, but high-ranking Iranian officials have blamed the assault on Israel.

    An anonymous Israeli official, who has allegedly been involved in tracking Mohsen Fakhrizadeh for years, has told the New York Times that the world should thank Israel for the assassination of the scientist, described by Tel Aviv as the head of Iran’s purported nuclear weapons programme.

    Fakhrizadeh, who was a Physics professor at Imam Hussein University and a top researcher at Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, posed a considerable “menace” to the international community, according to the anonymous insider, noting that Israel would continue “to act against the Iranian nuclear programme as necessary”, the newspaper reported.

    Servants of the holy shrine of Imam Reza carry the coffin of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, in Mashhad, Iran November 29, 2020
    © REUTERS / WANA NEWS AGENCY
    Servants of the holy shrine of Imam Reza carry the coffin of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, in Mashhad, Iran November 29, 2020

    The scientist was assassinated on Friday in a town east of Tehran. According to reports, a barrage of gunfire - during which Fakhrizadeh was fatally wounded - was preceded by a nearby truck exploding.

    Though Israel has not claimed responsibility for the attack, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif described it as an act of “cowardice – with serious indications of Israeli involvement”. Furthermore, Iran's President, Hassan Rouhani, pinned the blame for the scientist's death on Tel Aviv.

    Fire and Bombing Attack

    On Friday, Fakhrizadeh was ambushed on a rural road in Absard, when a truck loaded with explosives detonated next to his vehicle. The professor was then reportedly attacked by several gunmen who emerged from a nearby car. Several of Fakhrizadeh’s bodyguards were killed as they exchanged fire with the attackers.

    The professor had also been wounded and died in hospital shortly afterwards. According to Iranian sources, several of the attackers were also killed, and some of them managed to escape.

    According to a report by The Times of Israel, citing anonymous western intelligence source, Fakhrizadeh’s killing was the “pinnacle” of Tel Aviv’s long-term plan to prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons.

    In spite of Israel's claims, Tehran has repeatedly denied that it has been engaged in atomic weapons construction or had any intention of doing so. The International Atomic Energy Agency has also found no evidence of efforts to build nuclear bombs in the country since 2003.

    Fakhrizadeh’s killing was described by major Middle Eastern powers as a “terrorist” act, with Iran vowing to avenge his death.

    Tags:
    Benjamin Netanyahu, nuclear, Israel, Iran
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