Iran’s president accuses Israel of killing nuclear scientist, vows to respond ‘at the proper time’

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani speaks during the National Combat Board meeting with Coronavirus (Kovid-19) on November 21, 2020 in Tehran, Iran.

Iranian Presidency Handout | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday accused Israel of assassinating the country’s top nuclear scientist, with the West considered the architect of Tehran’s secret military nuclear program.

Iran’s clerical and military rulers have on Friday threatened to avenge the assassination of Mohsin Fakhrizade, which could escalate tensions in the Middle East region and beyond.

Rouhani said in a televised cabinet meeting, “Our people are wiser than falling into the trap of the Zionist regime (Israel). Iran will surely respond to our scientist’s martyrdom at an appropriate time.”

“Once again, the evil hands of Global Arrogance and Zioni (Israeli) mercenaries were stained with the blood of an Iranian son,” Rouhani said in a statement on Saturday.

Israel has refused to comment on the murder.

Fakhrizadeh’s death could spark a confrontation between Iran and its enemies in the final weeks of Donald Trump’s US presidency. This could complicate any attempt by President-Elect Joe Biden to revive Barack Obama’s presidential nominee after he took office in January.

The White House, the Pentagon, the US State Department and the CIA have declined to comment, as has Biden’s transition team.

Tehran said that at least four scientists were murdered between 2010 and 2012, aiming to sabotage its nuclear power program. Iran has always denied pursuing nuclear weapons.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency reported that one of the killers opened fire on his car after an explosive-laden car exploded near Fakhrizadeh’s vehicle at 2:30 pm local time.

It said that one of Fakhrizadeh’s bodyguards was shot four times and Fakhrzadeh was transported by helicopter to a hospital in Damavand County, about 70 km (44 mi) from Tehran. He died in the hospital.

A witness told State TV that bullets were repeatedly fired and Fakhrizadeh’s bodyguards clashed with the killers.

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