On Friday, unknown gunmen attacked and killed Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a scientist involved in the Iranian military nuclear program. According to reports, the attack happened in the outskirts of Tehran, Iran’s capital city. The gunmen attacked the nuclear scientist and his bodyguards and in the gunfire that ensued, Fakhrizadeh was shot and later succumbed to his injuries in a hospital.
The country’s Defense Ministry confirmed Fakhrizadeh’s death in a statement. Top officials in the country have expressed the popular opinion that Israel was responsible for the attack on the nuclear scientist. The foreign minister in the country, Mohammad Javad Zarif confirmed the attack in a Twitter post and stated that there are “serious indications” that Israel was involved.
The Israeli government has not made any comments on the attack or allegations against it.
When the issue of Iran’s military nuclear program came up in 2018, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu named Fakhrizadeh as a fundamental part of the country’s covert nuclear operations. His statement followed the activities of Mossad and another Israeli intelligence agency which helped to infiltrate Iran’s nuclear program and steal vital documents.
Gen. Amir Hatami, the Defense Minister in Iran paid a tribute to Fakhrizadeh on Friday. Hatami hailed the scientist as a natural leader and innovator responsible for creating one of the first COVID-19 testing kits in Iran. The late scientist, who was a professor at Imam Hussein University once headed the country’s Physics Research Center.
Though the United States has not given an official statement about the attack, officials are worried about reprisal attacks against the US troops in the Middle East, especially after some officials in Iran have named the United States as a possible accomplice in the attack. The Departments of State and Treasury of the United States started making efforts to curb the activities of Fakhrizadeh in 2008 and the country publicly confirmed the scientist as the leader of the Iranian military nuclear program.
Yossi Melman, an Israeli journalist that focuses on intelligence affairs reports tweeted that Fakhrizadeh was also the head of a program to build a nuclear bomb. Melman stated in his tweet that Mossad has been out for Fakhrizadeh for a long time for his role in the secret military program in Iran.
Founder of the National Iranian American Council, Trita Parsi also took to Twitter to name Israel as the “prime suspect” in the attack. Parsi, who has published different reports about the relationship between the three countries, explained that Isreal has always wanted a confrontation between Iran and the United States which would happen if Iran launches a reprisal attack.
Officials such as Hossein Dehghan, an advisor to Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, have pledged that the attack will not go unavenged neither will it stop the country’s nuclear program just like previous assassinations and cyberattacks failed to put an end to the program. The officials also called on international organizations to denounce the attack and stop their “double standards”.