Iran’s supreme leader vows retaliation for killing of scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh
- Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran’s first priority after the killing was the ‘definitive punishment of the perpetrators and those who ordered it’
- Fakhrizadeh died on Friday after gunman ambushed him in his car near Tehran
In a statement, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called Fakhrizadeh “the country’s prominent and distinguished nuclear and defensive scientist.”
Khamenei said Iran’s first priority after the killing was the “definitive punishment of the perpetrators and those who ordered it.” He did not elaborate.
Rowhani said that Fakhrizadeh’s death would not stop its nuclear programme, something Khamenei said as well. Iran’s civilian nuclear programme has continued its experiments and now enriches uranium up to 4.5 per cent, far below weapons-grade levels of 90 per cent.
But analysts have compared Fakhrizadeh to being on a par with Robert Oppenheimer, the scientist who led the US’ Manhattan Project in second world war that created the atomic bomb.
“We will respond to the assassination of Martyr Fakhrizadeh in a proper time,” Rowhani said.
He added: “The Iranian nation is smarter than falling into the trap of the Zionists. They are thinking to create chaos.”
Israel’s N12 news channel said Israeli embassies had been put on high alert after the Iranian threats of retaliation. Friday’s attack happened in Absard, a village just east of the capital that is a retreat for the Iranian elite. Iranian state television said an old truck with explosives hidden under a load of wood blew up near a sedan carrying Fakhrizadeh.
As Fakhrizadeh’s sedan stopped, at least five gunmen emerged and raked the car with rapid fire, the semi-official Tasnim news agency said.
Fakhrizadeh died at a hospital after doctors and paramedics couldn’t revive him. Others wounded included Fakhrizadeh’s bodyguards. Photos and video shared online showed a Nissan sedan with bullet holes in the windscreen and blood pooled on the road.
Those assaults occurred at the height of Western fears over Iran’s nuclear programme. Tehran long has insisted its programme is peaceful. However, Fakhrizadeh led Iran’s so-called AMAD programme that Israel and the West have alleged was a military operation looking at the feasibility of building a nuclear weapon. The International Atomic Energy Agency says that “structured programme” ended in 2003.