An Iranian military commander said Iran would retaliate against killers who shot a suspected top nuclear weapons scientist.
Tehran blames Israel for the murder of investigator Mohsen Fakhrizadeh after he was shot near the capital on Friday.
Officials labeled it a ‘terrorist’ attack and accused Israel of a role in his death.
“We will attack the killers of this oppressed martyr like hell and make them regret their action,” Hossein Dehghan, military adviser to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, wrote in a tweet.
According to reports, Western officials have long believed that Fakhrizadeh was the head of Iran’s secret nuclear program.
The Ministry of Defense confirmed the death of the physics professor and leading figure in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif claimed there was evidence of an Israeli role in the scientist’s death.
He demanded that Western countries, and in particular the European Union, immediately condemn the ‘act of state terror’.
He wrote in a tweet: “Terrorists killed a leading Iranian scientist today.
“This cowardice – with serious evidence of Israeli role – shows desperate bellicose perpetrators. Iran calls on the international community – and especially the EU – to end their shameful double standards and condemn this act of state terror. “
The Pentagon has declined to comment on the incident, Reuters reports.
Western officials and experts believe that Fakhrizadeh has historically played a critical role in the suspected Iranian work on its nuclear program.
He is believed to have been a key figure in developing the means to mount a nuclear warhead behind the facade of a declared civilian uranium enrichment program.
Iran denies ever attempting to develop a nuclear weapon.
A historic report by the UN nuclear watchdog in 2011 identified Fakhrizadeh as a central figure in the alleged Iranian work to develop technology and skills necessary for atomic bombs, and suggested that he might still have a role in such activities.
Fakhrizadeh, believed to be a senior officer in the elite Revolutionary Guard Corps, was the only Iranian identified, according to the report.
The UN. The International Atomic Energy Agency has long wanted to meet with Fakhrizadeh as part of a lengthy investigation into whether Iran has conducted illegal nuclear weapons research.
Iran showed no sign that it would comply with the request and acknowledged Fakhrizadeh’s existence several years ago, but said he was an army officer not involved in the nuclear program, an informed diplomatic source told Reuters. .
He was also mentioned in a 2007 UN resolution on Iran as a person involved in nuclear or ballistic missile activities.