Iran blames Israel for assassination of top nuclear scientist

Nov. 28 (UPI) — The president of Iran has blamed Israel for the assassination on Friday of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

Hassan Rouhani vowed that Iran would retaliate over Fakhrizadeh’s killing.

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“Iran’s enemies should know that the people of Iran and officials are braver than to leave this criminal act unanswered,” Rouhani said in a televised statement. “In due time, [Israel] will answer for this crime,” he said.

“This brutal assassination shows that our enemies are passing through anxious weeks, weeks that they feel their pressure era is coming to an end and the global conditions are changing,” Rouhani added. He said Israel, which he called the “usurper Zionist regime” aimed “to cause commotion and turmoil.”

Israel has normalized diplomatic relations with other Arab countries threatened by Iran in U.S.-brokered negotiations with the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Bahrain.

Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a tweet Saturday that Fakhrizadeh was “martyred by brutal mercenaries” and called for justice.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called the attack an act of “cowardice — with serious indications of [an] Israeli role.”

Fakhrizadeh was killed Friday in a surprise attack on his car by gunmen in the city of Damavand, north of the capital city of Tehran.

Israel has not declared responsibility for the attack. Israel’s Channel 12 News warned that Israeli embassies around the world had been put on alert.

The Times of Israel reported that Fakhrizadeh, head of Iran’s secretive nuclear program, was long a top target of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad and claimed “unnamed sources” had said Israel was behind Fakhrizadeh’s killing.

A spokesman for the European Union called the attack, “a criminal act and runs counter to the principle of respect for human rights the EU stands for.

“In these uncertain times, it is more important than ever for all parties to remain calm and exercise maximum restraint in order to avoid escalation which cannot be in anyone’s interest,” Nabila Massrali, foreign affairs and security policy spokesman for the EU said in a statement.

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