Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday accused archenemy Israel of acting as a “mercenary” for the United States and accused the Jewish state of murdering one of Tehran’s prominent nuclear scientists the day before.
“Once again the evil hands of global arrogance with the Zionist usurper regime as mercenaries have been stained with the blood of a son of this nation,” Rouhani said in a statement on his official website referring to the assassination of Mohsen in Fakhrizadeh.
Iran generally uses the term “global arrogance” to refer to the United States.
Fakhrizadeh was “seriously wounded” when attackers aimed at his car before engaging in an exchange of fire with his bodyguards in an attack outside Tehran on Friday, the Iranian Defense Ministry said.
It added that Fakhrizadeh, who headed the ministry’s research and innovation organization, was later “tortured” after medics failed to revive him.
Rouhani vowed that his death “does not interfere” with Iran’s scientific advancement and said the murder was due to the “weakness and inability” of Tehran’s enemies to stifle its growth.
He expressed his condolences to “the scientific community and the revolutionary Iranian people”.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Friday that there was “serious evidence of an Israeli role” in the attack.
The United States sanctioned Fakhrizadeh in 2008 for “activities and transactions that contributed to the development of Iran’s nuclear program,” and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once described him as the father of the Iranian nuclear weapons program.
Fakhrizadeh was targeted during a trip near the town of Absard in eastern Damavand County, Tehran Province.
The New York Times said an American official and two other intelligence officials confirmed that Israel was behind the attack, without giving further details.
The attack took place less than two months before US President-elect Joe Biden took office.
Biden has promised a return to diplomacy with Iran after four years under Donald Trump, who withdrew from the Iranian nuclear deal in 2018 and began imposing crippling sanctions.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)