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UN calls for restraint as Iran accuses Israel of killing top nuclear scientist

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh died in a shootout on Friday.

Hossein Dehghan, an adviser to Iran's supreme leader
Hossein Dehghan, an adviser to Iran's supreme leader
Image: PA Images

Updated Nov 28th 2020, 6:52 PM

THE UNITED NATIONS has urged restraint today after tensions rose in the Middle East with the assassination of a top Iranian nuclear scientist.

A spokesperson for the UN said that it urges “restraint and the need to avoid any actions that could lead to an escalation of tensions in the region”.

“We condemn any assassination or extrajudicial killing,” the UN said.

An adviser to Iran’s supreme leader said the country would “descend like lightning” to avenge the scientist’s that took place yesterday.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, whom Israel alleged led the Islamic Republic’s military nuclear programme until its disbanding in the early 2000s, was killed in a shootout on Friday.

His death led Hossein Dehghan, a presidential candidate in Iran’s 2021 election as well as an adviser to its supreme leader, to echo an earlier claim that Israel was behind the attack and issued a warning.

“In the last days of their gambling ally’s political life, the Zionists seek to intensify and increase pressure on Iran to wage a full-blown war,” Dehghan wrote, appearing to refer to US President Donald Trump’s last days in office.

“We will descend like lightning on the killers of this oppressed martyr and we will make them regret their actions.”

Tehran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had suggested Israel was behind the attack, in which he said “terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist”.

“This cowardice — with serious indications of Israeli role — shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators,” Zarif tweeted.

“Iran calls on the international community — and especially EU — to end their shameful double standards and condemn this act of state terror.”

Israel declined to immediately comment on the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu once mentioned in a news conference saying: “Remember that name”.

Israel has long been suspected of carrying out a series of targeted killings of Iranian nuclear scientists nearly a decade ago.

State TV Friday cited sources confirming the death. It said it would offer more information soon.

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Fakhrizadeh led Iran’s so-called Amad, or Hope programme,  which the International Atomic Energy Agency says ended in the early 2000s.

IAEA inspectors now monitor Iranian nuclear sites as part of Iran’s now-unravelling nuclear deal with world powers.

However, Israel and some other countries have alleged the programme was a military operation looking at the feasibility of building a nuclear weapon in Iran.

Tehran has long maintained its nuclear programme is peaceful.

Additional reporting by AFP.

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