Iran blames Israel for killing of nuclear scientist near Tehran

Iran Nuclear
Iran Nuclear

Iran's foreign minister has urged the international community to condemn the "terrorist" murder of a nuclear scientist, blaming Israel for the attack.

An Iranian scientist that Israel alleged led the Islamic Republic's military nuclear programme until its disbanding in the early 2000s was killed in a shootout on Friday, Iran's state television had said.

Tehran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif quickly suggested that Israel was behind the attack.

In a tweet Mr Zarif said: "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."

Israel declined to immediately comment on the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu once mentioned in a news conference saying: "Remember that name".

Israel has long been suspected of carrying out a series of targeted killings of Iranian nuclear scientists nearly a decade ago.

Iran Nuclear
The scene where Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed in Absard (Fars News Agency via AP)

State TV Friday cited sources confirming the death.

It said it would offer more information shortly.

The semi-official Fars news agency, believed to be close to the country's Revolutionary Guard, said the attack happened in Absard, a small city just east of the capital, Tehran.

It said witnesses heard the sound of an explosion and then machine gun fire.

The attack targeted a car that Mr Fakhrizadeh was in, the agency said.

State television on its website later published a photograph of security forces blocking off the road.

Iran Nuclear
Mr Fakhrizadeh led Iran's controversial Amad programme (Fars News Agency via AP)

Mr Fakhrizadeh led Iran's so-called Amad, or Hope programme.

Israel and the West have alleged it was a military operation looking at the feasibility of building a nuclear weapon in Iran.

Tehran long has maintained its nuclear programme is peaceful.

US president Donald Trump, who imposed sanctions on Iran this year, has been vocally critical of the nuclear programme. On Friday, he posted three re-tweets about the case without comment, including one in Hebrew.

The International Atomic Energy Agency says that Amad programme ended in the early 2000s.

IAEA inspectors now monitor Iranian nuclear sites as part of Iran's now-unravelling nuclear deal with world powers.