A high-ranking Iranian nuclear physicist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was assassinated in an ambush near Iran’s capital, Tehran, on Friday.
Fakhrizadeh was shot “by terrorists” in his vehicle in Absard, a suburb in eastern Tehran, later succumbing to his wounds in what was described as a “martyr’s death”, according to Iran’s foreign ministry.
There has been no claim of responsibility for the killing of Fakhrizadeh, who had long been suspected by Western and Israeli intelligence of leading the nation’s military nuclear programme until its disbanding in the early 2000s.
But some have pointed the finger at Israel and the United States for the assassination, which threatens to increase tensions between Tehran and Washington in the final days of the Donald Trump presidency.
Here is how the world has reacted so far to Fakhrizadeh’s killing:
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei said Iran’s first priority after the killing was the “definitive punishment of the perpetrators and those who ordered it”, while President Hassan Rouhani accused Israel of being behind the assassination.
“Once again, the evil hands of global arrogance were stained with the blood of the mercenary usurper Zionist regime,” Rouhani said in a statement.
The country’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also accused Israel of carrying out the attack.
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
Cabinet minister for Settlement Affairs Tzachi Hanegbi said he had “no clue” who was behind the Fakhrizadeh killing.
“I have no clue who did it. It’s not that my lips are sealed because I’m being responsible, I really have no clue,” Hanegbi, a confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told N12’s Meet the Press.
A statement from a spokesperson for the European Union called Fakhrizadeh’s killing “a criminal act” that “runs counter to the principle of respect for human rights the EU stands for”.
It also urged all parties to show “calm and maximum restraint”.
“In these uncertain times, it is more important than ever for all parties to remain calm and exercise maximum restraint in order to avoid escalation which cannot be in anyone’s interest,” the statement said.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani condemned the assassination in a phone call with Zarif.
In the phone call, Sheikh Mohammed said “such steps will only contribute to pouring more fuel on the fire at a time when the region and the international community are searching for ways to reduce tension and return to the table of dialogue and diplomacy”, according to QNA, Qatar’s state news agency.
He also extended Qatar’s condolences to the government and the people of Iran and called for self-restraint.
The UN condemned Fakhrizadeh’s killing while urging restraint in order to avoid an “escalation of tensions”.
“We urge restraint and the need to avoid any actions that could lead to an escalation of tensions in the region,” a UN spokesman said. “We condemn any assassination or extrajudicial killing.”
Syria’s Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad accused Israel and “those who supported it” of being behind Fakhrizadeh’s assassination, an act he said would only fuel more tensions in the region.
Mekdad was quoted by state media as telling the Iranian envoy in Damascus that Syria was confident Iran would confront what he called a “terrorist act”.
Turkey’s parliamentary speaker referred to those responsible for the killing as “terrorist”.
“The assassination of the Iranian scientist was an act of terrorism. Whether it was committed by an illegal or a “legal” organization or a state makes no difference,” Mustafa Sentop said on Twitter.
Assassination of an Iranian scientist is an act of terrorism. Whether it is committed by an illegal or a “legal” organization or a State makes no difference. Terrorism is always terrorism, anyone who commits an act of terrorism is a terrorist. We oppose illegality in intl. arena.
— Prof. Dr. Mustafa Şentop (@MustafaSentop) November 28, 2020
Germany called for calm and said all sides should avoid taking any steps that could lead to escalation.
“We call on all parties to avoid taking any action which could lead to a new escalation of the situation” which “we absolutely do not need at this moment,” a German foreign ministry spokesman said.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza condemned the attack on Twitter, calling the killing of the scientist a “terrorist attack”.
#COMUNICADO | Venezuela condena el asesinato del eminente científico iraní, Dr. Mohsen Fajrizade, Presidente de la Organización de Investigación e Innovación Defensiva de la República Islámica de Irán, quien perdió la vida en un atentado terrorista en las cercanías de Teherán. pic.twitter.com/hWQDvLGESS
— Jorge Arreaza M (@jaarreaza) November 27, 2020