Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has vowed to retaliate over the killing of one of the country’s top nuclear scientists.
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was injured after gunmen opened fire on his car in an ambush near Tehran. He died later in hospital.
In a televised speech late Thursday, Rouhani accused Israel of the killing.
“Our people are wiser than to fall in the trap of the Zionist regime (Israel)… Iran will surely respond to the martyrdom of our scientist at the proper time,” he said.
Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, also said Israel was probably to blame.
Zarif immediately called on European leaders to distance themselves from what he described as Israel’s actions.
“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.”
Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today. This cowardice—with serious indications of Israeli role—shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators
Iran calls on int'l community—and especially EU—to end their shameful double standards & condemn this act of state terror.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) November 27, 2020
Earlier, Hossein Dehghan, an adviser to Iran’s supreme leader and a candidate in the country’s election next year, had also issued a warning to the perpetrators, and appeared to add his voice to claims that Israel carried out the attack.
“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,” Mr Dehghan wrote, apparently referring to United States President Donald Trump.
“We will descend like lightning on the killers of this oppressed martyr and we will make them regret their actions!”
إِنَا لِلّهِ وَإِنَا إِلَيْه رَاجِعُون
صهیونیستها در واپسین روزهای عمر سیاسی متحد قماربازشان در پی تشدید و افزایش فشار بر ایران برای ایجاد یک جنگ تمامعیار هستند.
شب دراز است و قلندر بیدار! همچون صاعقه بر سر قاتلان این شهید مظلوم فرود خواهیم آمد و از کرده خود پشیمانشان میکنیم!
— Hossein Dehghan (@DehghanMedia) November 27, 2020
Trump has been a vocal critic of the Iranian nuclear project throughout his presidency.
Fakhrizadeh had been described by western and Israeli intelligence services for years as the leader of a covert atomic bomb programme halted in 2003.
He was a central figure in a presentation by the Israeli prime minister, Benajmin Netanyahu, in 2018 accusing Iran of continuing to seek nuclear weapons. “Remember that name, Fakhrizadeh,” Netanyahu said during the presentation.
No group has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.