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Iran's leader promises retaliation for nuclear scientist's killing


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Iran's leader promises retaliation for nuclear scientist's killing

By Parisa Hafezi

 

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FILE PHOTO: Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks live on television after casting his ballot in the Iranian presidential election in Tehran June 12, 2009. REUTERS/Caren Firouz/File Photo

 

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran's supreme leader promised on Saturday to retaliate for the killing of the Islamic Republic's top nuclear scientist, who the West and Israel believed was the architect of a secret Iranian programme to make weapons.

 

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's top authority who says Tehran has never sought nuclear arms, also pledged in his statement on Twitter to continue the work of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who died on Friday after gunman ambushed him in his car near Tehran.

 

The killing, which Iran's president was swift to blame on Israel, threatens to spark a new Middle East confrontation in the final weeks of U.S. President Donald Trump's term.

 

It could also complicate any efforts by President-elect Joe Biden to revive a detente with Tehran that was forged when he was in Barack Obama's administration. Trump pulled Washington out of the 2015 international nuclear pact agreed with Tehran.

 

Khamenei said in his Twitter post that Iranian officials must take up the task of "pursuing this crime and punishing its perpetrators and those who commanded it."

 

Israel's N12 news channel said Israeli embassies had been put on high alert after the Iranian threats of retaliation. An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said the minister did not comment on security regarding its representation abroad.

 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told a televised cabinet meeting that Iran would respond "at the proper time."

 

"Once again, the evil hands of Global Arrogance and the Zionist mercenaries were stained with the blood of an Iranian son," he said, using terms officials employ to refer to Israel.

 

Israel has declined to comment on the killing. The White House, Pentagon, U.S. State Department and CIA also declined to comment, as did Biden's transition team.

 

"Whether Iran is tempted to take revenge or whether it restrains itself, it will make it difficult for Biden to return to the nuclear agreement," Amos Yadlin, a former Israeli military intelligence chief and director of Israel's Institute for National Security Studies, wrote on Twitter.

 

Under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear work in return for the lifting of sanctions. Since Trump withdrew in 2018, U.S. sanctions have been ramped up, driving down Iran's vital oil exports and crippling the economy. Tehran, meanwhhile, has sped up its nuclear work.

 

'REMEMBER THAT NAME'

 

At least four scientists were killed between 2010 and 2012 in what Tehran said was a programme of assassinations aimed at sabotaging its nuclear energy programme. Iran has always denied pursuing nuclear weapons, saying its aims are only peaceful.

 

The semi-official Tasnim news agency reported that an explosive-laden car exploded near Fakhrizadeh's vehicle and one of the assassins then sprayed it bullets. The scientist was taken to a hospital nearby, where he died.

 

Fakhrizadeh had no public profile, but was thought to have headed what the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), U.N. nuclear watchdog, and the U.S. intelligence services believe was Iran's nuclear arms programme, shelved in 2003.

 

He was the only Iranian scientist named in the IAEA's 2015 "final assessment" of open questions about Iran's nuclear programme. It said he oversaw activities "in support of a possible military dimension to (Iran's) nuclear programme".

 

He was a central figure in a presentation by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2018 accusing Iran of continuing to seek nuclear weapons. "Remember that name, Fakhrizadeh," Netanyahu said at the time.

 

U.S. intelligence services and the International Atomic Energy Agency believe Iran halted its coordinated weapons programme in 2003.

 

The IAEA has said it had no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009.

 

(Additional reporting by Francois Murphy in Vienna and Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem; Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Frances Kerry and Edmund Blair)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-11-28
 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, billd766 said:

I would have said that it was premeditated murder by the state rather than an assassination, but still it was state sponsored terrorism.

Not sure the label really matters either way, but I think the more accurate label is an act of war. 

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5 minutes ago, Jingthing said:

Not sure the label really matters either way, but I think the more accurate label is an act of war. 

An act of war by whom?

 

Have either the USA or Iran declared war on each other?

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10 hours ago, billd766 said:

I would have said that it was premeditated murder by the state rather than an assassination, but still it was state sponsored terrorism.

Last week Thailand has released 3 Iranian terrorists that has tried to commandeer and take hostages the people at the Israeli embassy in Bkk back in 2012, they have failed and of them lost both legs In Thailand such terrorism act carry the mandatory death sentence but those Iranian were only charged with unlawfully keeping weapons and ammunition,

those terrorist wear let go in an exchange deal between Australia ,Iran and  Israel  and the Thai government whereby an Australian citizen, who was arrested in Iran on "espionage" charges because her husband is an Israeli, so, so much for state sponsored terrorism my friend as Iran is the number one country in the world at it....

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5 hours ago, Jingthing said:

Yes and its obvious that the relatively more moderate part of Iran's leadership knows that. But they will still be under pressure to retaliate. They can probably retaliate in some kind of measured way to save face so as not to make it impossible to renew talks with the.incomimg Biden administration. But they also might blow it.

If they will retaliate, it will probably after Trump is gone as he is just itching for an excuse to hit Iran before he leaves office...

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2 minutes ago, ezzra said:

If they will retaliate, it will probably after Trump is gone as he is just itching for an excuse to hit Iran before he leaves office...

Perhaps but I don’t get the logic of that timing from their POV. They might think Biden is less likely to overreact but that would still block any hopes of a reset on negotiations.

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