Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani Saturday accused arch-foe Israel of trying to create “chaos” by assassinating one of Tehran’s top nuclear scientists, but said his country will not fall into a “trap”.
Scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was “martyred” after being seriously wounded when assailants targeted his car and engaged in a gunfight with his bodyguards outside the capital Tehran on Friday, according to Iran’s defence ministry.
“The nation of Iran is smarter than to fall in the trap of the conspiracy set by the Zionists. They are thinking of creating chaos, but they should know that we have read their hands and they will not succeed,” Rouhani said in televised remarks, after accusing the Jewish state of being behind the assassination.
“Iran’s enemies should know, that the people of Iran and officials are braver than to leave this criminal act unanswered,” he added, talking at Iran’s weekly Covid-19 taskforce meeting.
“In due time, they will answer for this crime.”
The defence ministry said that Fakhrizadeh, who headed its reasearch and innovation organisation, died after medics failed to revive him.
Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Friday said that there were “serious indications of an Israeli role” in the assassination.
The New York Times said an American official and two other intelligence officials confirmed Israel was behind the attack, without giving further details.
“This barbaric assassination shows that our enemies are in stressful weeks, during which they feel… their pressure declining, the global situation changing,” Rouhani said, in an apparent reference to the outgoing administration of US President Donald Trump, which has forged closer than ever ties with Israel.
The assassination of Fakhrizadeh comes less than two months before US President-elect Joe Biden is to take office.
Biden has promised a return to diplomacy with Iran after four hawkish years under Trump, who unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and re-imposed crippling sanctions as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran.
Rouhani said that Iran’s foes want to “make the maximum use … of these few weeks” in order to “create an uncertain situation in the region.”