Iran’s defence ministry on Friday said that armed terrorists targeted a vehicle carrying Fakhrizadeh. The terrorists reportedly “blew up another car” before firing on a vehicle carrying him and his bodyguards in the ambush. Iran blames Israel for the attack, with the country’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Friday saying there were “serious indications of Israeli role”.
According to Iranian news organisations, Israel killed the nuclear scientist with the use of “remote-controlled” weaponry. Fars news agency, which is associated with the Revolutionary Guards, reported that Fakhrizadeh was killed by a “remote-controlled machine gun”. Iran’s English language Press TV reported, citing an unidentified source, that the weapon contained the “logo and specifications of the Israeli military industry”.
Arabic language channel Al-Alam claimed that the weapons were “controlled by satellite”, a claim similar to Fars news agency. However, none of the news agencies have provided evidence in support of their claims, according to AP.
During the funeral procession, Secretary of the Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani said that the Iranian intelligence had received information of a conspiracy to kill the nuclear scientist. However, they failed to thwart the attack due to the use of innovative methods.
“Necessary improvements were made for his security, but the enemy used completely new, professional and special methods and, unfortunately, they were successful,” Shamkhani said, according to BBC. “It was a very complex mission using electronic equipment. There was no one present at the scene.”
Meanwhile, Israel’s Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen on Monday said in an interview that he did not know who was responsible for the killing of Fakhrizadeh.
“Iran’s aspirations for nuclear weapons, promoted by Mr Fakhrizadeh, posed such a menace that the world should thank Israel,” an unidentified senior Israeli officer, who is involved in keeping a track of Iran’s nuclear activities, told The New York Times.
The Iranian nuclear scientist was behind the development of the country’s nuclear programme. The physics professor is considered to have led Iran’s covert programme, Project Amad, set up in 1989 to conduct research on the possibility of a nuclear bomb. The programme was halted in 2003, but Israel and the United States accuse Tehran of trying to restore it in secret. Iran has long denied seeking to weaponise nuclear energy.
Fakhrizadeh was the only Iranian scientist named in the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 2015 “final assessment” of open questions about Iran’s nuclear programme. He had long been the top target of the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service, according to The New York Times.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has urged the international community to condemn the act, and “end their shameful double standards”. Hossein Dehghan, the military advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said that the country will seek revenge and make those responsible “regret their action”.