The Associated Press

FILE – In this October 26, 2010 file photo, a worker rides a bicycle in front of the reactor building of the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant outside of Bushehr, Iran (AP Photo / Majid Asgaripour / More News Agency, File)

An Iranian scientist appointed by the West to lead the Islamic Republic’s disbanded military nuclear program was killed in an ambush on the outskirts of Tehran on Friday

The Iranian foreign minister alleged that Mohsen Fakhrizadeh’s assassination gave “serious indications” of an Israeli role, but failed to elaborate. Israel, long suspected of killing several Iranian nuclear scientists a decade ago, declined to comment immediately Benjamin Netanyahu once told the public to “remember this name” when talking about Fakhrizadeh

The killing could further exacerbate tensions in the Middle East, almost a year after Iran and the US. was on the brink of war when an American drone attack killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad It comes just like U.S. President-elect Joe Biden is close to his inauguration in January and will likely complicate his efforts to return America to a pact to ensure Iran does not have enough highly enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon

That deal, in which Iran restricted its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions, was completely dissolved after President Donald Trump stepped down from the deal in 2018

Trump himself retweeted an article by Israeli journalist Yossi Melman, an expert with Israeli Mossad intelligence, about the murder. Melman’s tweet called the killing a “great psychological and professional blow to Iran”

Details of the assassination remained slim in the hours after the attack in Absard, a village east of the capital that’s a haven for the Iranian elite, Iranian state television said there was an old truck with explosives hidden under a load of wood Has been blown up near a limo with Fakhrizadeh

When Fakhrizadeh’s limo stopped, at least five armed men showed up and picked up the car with rapid fire, the semi-official Tasnim news agency said

Fakhrizadeh died in a hospital after doctors and paramedics were unable to resuscitate him. The other wounded were Fakhrizadeh’s bodyguards Photos and videos shared online showed a Nissan sedan with bullet holes in the windshield and blood on the street

While no one took responsibility for the attack, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif pointed a finger at Israel and called the killing an act of “state terror” “

“Terrorists murdered a major Iranian scientist today. This cowardice – with serious references to Israel’s role – shows the perpetrators’ desperate warmongering,” wrote Zarif on Twitter

Hossein Dehghan, adviser to the Iranian Supreme Leader and presidential candidate in the Iranian elections in 2021, also accused Israel – and issued a warning

“In the final days of their ally’s political life, the Zionists are trying to step up and up the pressure on Iran to wage a full-blown war,” Dehghan wrote, seemingly referring to Trump’s final days in office. “We’ll like a bolt of lightning descend upon the murderers of this downtrodden martyr and make them repent of their actions! ”

The attack comes just days before the ten-year anniversary of the murder of Iranian nuclear scientist Majid Shahriari, whom Tehran also accused Israel of.These and other targeted killings occurred at the time when the so-called Stuxnet virus, which is believed to be an Israeli one and American creation is, Iranian centrifuges destroyed

The area around Absard, overlooking Mount Damavand, the country’s highest peak, is full of vacation villas.The streets on Friday, part of the Iranian weekend, were emptier than normal due to the lockdown of the coronavirus pandemic and gave its attackers the opportunity to join in fewer people nearby to strike

Fakhrizadeh led Iran’s so-called Iranian AMAD program, which Israel and the West claimed was a military operation examining the feasibility of building a nuclear weapon. Tehran has long maintained its nuclear program for civilian purposes only

The International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran had “activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device” in a “structured program” until late 2003. That was the AMAD program, which included work on the carefully coordinated explosives that detonate an implosion style atomic bomb were needed

Iran “ran computer models of a nuclear explosive device” before 2005 and between 2005 and 2009, according to the IAEA, but the agency said those calculations were “incomplete and fragmented”

IAEA inspectors are now overseeing Iranian nuclear sites under the now-dissolving nuclear deal with world powers Experts believe Iran has enough low-enriched uranium to produce at least two nuclear weapons if it wants to pursue the bomb that exploded in July an advanced centrifuge assembly plant at the Iranian nuclear power plant Natanz, which Tehran now calls a sabotage attack

Fakhrizadeh, born in 1958, had been sanctioned by the UN Security Council and the U.S. for his work on AMAD Iran always described him as a university professor of physics Fakhrizadeh, a member of the Revolutionary Guard, was featured in pictures attended by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a token of his power

In recent years, US. Sanctions lists name him as head of Iran’s Defensive Innovation and Research Organization The State Department last year described the organization as “dual-use research and development activities,” aspects of which may be useful for nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons delivery systems “

In 2018, Netanyahu gave a presentation in which he revealed what he described as material that Israel had stolen from an Iranian nuclear archive

“An integral part of the plan was to create new organizations to keep the work going,” claimed Netanyahu. “So is Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, head of Project Amad, put it. Remember that name, Fakhrizadeh “

Associate press writers Amir Vahdat and Mohammad Nasiri in Tehran, Iran, and Deb Riechmann in Washington contributed to this report

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World News – CA – Iranian scientist in connection with a military nuclear program killed by armed men