Iran cries revenge for killing of scientist

Iran's top authority Khameneiand said Iranian officials must take up the task of "pursuing this crime and punishing its perpetrators and those who commanded it."

Iran will give a “calculated and decisive” response to the killing of its top nuclear scientist, said a top adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, while a hardline newspaper suggested Tehran’s revenge should include striking the Israeli city of Haifa.

“Undoubtedly, Iran will give a calculated and decisive answer to the criminals who took Martyr Mohsen Fakhrizadeh from the Iranian nation,” Kamal Kharrazi, who is also head of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, said in a statement.

Fakhrizadeh, who founded the Islamic Republic’s military nuclear program in the early 2000s, was ambushed on a highway near Tehran on Friday and gunned down in his car. His body has been taken to the first of several revered Shiite Muslim shrines ahead of his burial on Monday, state media reported.

Iran’s clerical and military rulers have blamed the Islamic Republic’s longtime enemy, Israel, for the killing. US intelligence agencies and UN nuclear inspectors have said the organized military nuclear program that Fakhrizadeh oversaw disbanded in 2003, but Israeli suspicion of Tehran’s atomic program and his involvement has never ceased.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office has declined to comment on the killing and an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said the ministry did not comment on security regarding missions abroad. Israeli Cabinet minister Tzachi Hanegbi, a confidant of Netanyahu, said he did not know who carried out the killing.

Iranian hardline media on Sunday called for a tough revenge.

The hardline Kayhan daily, whose editor-in-chief is appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called for an attack on the Israeli port city of Haifa, if an Israeli role in Fakhrizadeh’s killing is proven.

“The attack should be carried out in such a way that in addition to destroying the facilities, it should also cause heavy human casualties,” wrote Saadollah Zarei in an opinion piece.

Such an attack would also complicate any effort by US President-elect Joe Biden to revive detente with Tehran after he takes office on January 20.

Tensions have been high between Tehran and Washington since 2018, when President Donald Trump exited Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions that have hit Iran’s economy hard. In retaliation, Tehran has gradually breached the deal’s curbs on its nuclear program.

Biden has said he will return the United States to the deal if Iran resumes compliance.

Khamenei, who is Iran’s top authority and who says the country has never sought nuclear arms, said on Twitter that Iranian officials must take up the task of “pursuing this crime and punishing its perpetrators and those who commanded it.”

Iran’s parliament held a closed session on Sunday, joined by the intelligence minister, to “investigate the assassination,” ISNA news agency reported.

At least four scientists were killed between 2010 and 2012 in what Tehran said was a program of assassinations aimed at sabotaging its nuclear energy program.

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