• Top Iranian nuclear scientist killed in attack
• General Amir Hatami was quoted by Iran’s semi-official news agency ISNA as saying Fakhrizadeh was targeted by gunfire
• Fakhrizadeh was a leading figure in Iran’s nuclear program for many years
• Several top-level Iranian officials have condemned the attack and threatened to retaliate
Tehran, Iran – Iran’s top nuclear scientist was killed Friday in an alleged assassination that the country’s foreign minister linked to Israel.
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, considered one of the masterminds of Iran’s controversial nuclear program, died after his car was apparently ambushed in a district east of Tehran. Photos from the scene showed the shattered windshield of a car, and blood on the road.
Iranian state media said the killing appeared to be an assassination. Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami was quoted by Iran’s semi-official news agency ISNA as saying Fakhrizadeh was targeted by gunfire and a Nissan vehicle explosion, before a firefight ensued.
Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif called the death “cowardice — with serious indications of Israeli role.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office declined to comment to CNN.
Fakhrizadeh was head of the research center of new technology in the elite Revolutionary Guards, and was a leading figure in Iran’s nuclear program for many years.
“Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today,” Zarif said in a tweet. “This cowardice — with serious indications of Israeli role — shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators Iran calls on int’l community — and especially EU — to end their shameful double standards & condemn this act of state terror.”
US President Donald Trump retweeted prominent Israeli journalist Yossi Melman, who wrote: “Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi assassinated in Damavand, east of Tehran according to reports in Iran. He was head of Iran’s secret military program and wanted for many years by Mossad. His death is a major psychological and professional blow for Iran.”
The Trump administration said it was closely monitoring the apparent assassination.
Several top-level Iranian officials have condemned the attack and threatened to retaliate. The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, Hossein Salami, issued a statement calling the killing a “terrorist operation”, according to ISNA.