An Iranian nuclear scientist described as the guru of Iran’s nuclear program has been gunned down in the street in a town near Tehran.
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was ambushed in the town of Absard, about 40 miles east of Tehran. Four assailants opened fire after witnesses heard an explosion. Efforts to resuscitate Fakhrizadeh failed. His bodyguard was wounded.
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, believed to be 59, has been considered the driving force behind Iran’s nuclear weapons program for two decades, and continued to work after the main part of the effort was quietly disbanded in the early 2000s, according to American intelligence assessments and Iranian nuclear documents stolen by Israel.
Fakhrizadeh had long been the No. 1 target of the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service.
Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, identified Israel as the likely culprit. “Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today,” he tweeted. “This cowardice – with serious indications of Israeli role – shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators. Iran calls on international community – and especially EU – to end their shameful double standards & condemn this act of state terror.”
The Trump administration said it is closely monitoring the apparent assassination. The death “would be a big deal,” a US official told CNN.