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Iran leader threatens retaliation for scientist’s death and heightens tension

Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei speaks of punishing those who killed Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Image: AFP

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, today promised retaliation for the death of the country’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, increasing tension in relations with Israel and other countries like the United States.

Khamenei also pledged to continue the work of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who Israelis and other governments believe was the architect of a secret Iranian program to make weapons.

Khamenei, who is Iran’s top official and says the country has never sought nuclear weapons, called Fakhrizadeh “the country’s most prominent and distinguished nuclear and defensive scientist”.

He further said that Iran’s first priority after the murder was “the ultimate punishment of perpetrators and those who ordered it”. He gave no further details.

Yesterday’s assassination, which the President of Iran quickly attributed to Israel, could complicate President-elect Joe Biden’s efforts to revive a tension with Tehran that was forged when he was under Barack Obama.

Trump pulled Washington out of the 2015 international nuclear pact agreed between Tehran and the major powers.

Fakhrizadeh, who had little public profile in Iran but whom Israel has appointed as a leading actor in what he says is the search for nuclear weapons, was killed yesterday when he was ambushed near Tehran and his car was hit by bullets. He was rushed to the hospital where he died.

President speaks of “chaos”

Earlier, Iranian President Hassan Rohani accused Israel of wanting to sow “chaos” in a crime that, according to Tehran officials, must be “punished”.

“Once again, the merciless hands of global arrogance, with the usurper Zionist regime as a mercenary, have been stained with the blood of a son of this nation,” said Rohani in an official statement.

Iranian officials use the term “global arrogance” in reference to the United States.

“The Iranian nation is too smart to fall into the trap of the Zionist conspiracy. They are thinking of creating chaos, but they should know that we know their intentions and will not be successful,” said Rohani, minutes after the release of the statement, in an aired speech. On TV.

Rohani pledged to prevent Fakhrizadeh’s death from hampering the country’s scientific advances and said the specialist’s assassination was motivated by the “inability” of Iran’s enemies to prevent its development.

“Iran’s enemies should know that the courage of the Iranian people and authorities is such that this criminal act will not be without consequences,” said Rohani, at a weekly meeting dedicated to fighting the Iranian pandemic. coronavirus.

The Iranian nuclear program

The assassinated scientist had been appointed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the father of the Iranian program that aims to produce the nuclear bomb, an intention that Iran has always denied.

The US State Department indicated in 2008 that Fakhrizadeh carried out “activities and transactions that contributed to the development of Iran’s nuclear program”.

“This barbaric murder shows that our enemies live difficult weeks in which they feel (…) that their pressure is decreasing, that the world situation is changing,” said Rohani.

Iran’s enemies “want to make the most of (…) these weeks to create an uncertain situation in the region,” he added, without revealing details.

The assassination took place less than two months after Democratic Joe Biden, winner of the November 3 elections, as president of the United States.

Biden plans to modify American policy on Iran after Donald Trump decided to unilaterally withdraw the country from the 2015 international agreement on the Iranian nuclear program. Washington has since reinstated sanctions against Tehran.

The Lebanese pro-Iranian Hezbollah movement criticized the scientist’s murder, committed in the group’s words “by criminal and terrorist groups to prevent the Islamic Republic (…) from preserving its scientific progress and its political and intellectual independence”.

On Friday, Iran’s Defense Minister Amir Hatami said the murdered scientist had “an important role in defense innovations”.

“He administered nuclear defense and did a great job,” he added, without providing any further explanation.

Mohamad Javad Zarif, foreign minister of the Islamic Republic, called on the international community to “end shameful ambivalent positions and condemn the terrorist act”.

Several scientists specializing in the Iranian nuclear program have been killed in recent years. Tehran systematically holds Israel responsible for these deaths.

With information from Reuters, AP and AFP

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