A top Iranian security official on Monday accused Israel of using “electronic devices” to remotely kill a scientist who founded the Islamic Republic’s military nuclear program in the 2000s.
Shamkhani’s remarks drastically change the story of Fakhrizadeh’s killing. Authorities initially said a truck exploded and then gunmen opened fire on the scientist, killing him.
The semi-official Fars News Agency had on Sunday reported that Fakhrizadeh was shot by a remote-controlled machine gun operating out of another car. State TV’s English-language Press TV said earlier on Wednesday that a weapon recovered from the scene of the attack bore “the logo and specifications of the Israeli military industry.”
Iran has blamed Israel for the attack. Israel, long suspected of killing Iranian nuclear scientists over the last decade, has declined to comment on the killing.
Meanwhile, a funeral for the scientist was held in Iran on Monday, three days after his assassination.
Defence Minister Amir Hatami vowed in a speech to avenge Fakhrizadeh’s death and continue his path “vigorously”.
“The enemies know and I, as a soldier, tell them that no crime, no terror and no stupid act will go unanswered by the Iranian people,” Gen Hatami said.
“We will severely pursue the criminals. They must know that they will be punished for their actions.”
State TV broadcast the ceremony showing the casket of Fakhrizadeh. An honor guard carried it to a podium where reciters read the Quran and other religious verses in an outdoor area of the Defense Ministry in Iran’s capital, Tehran.
Officials, including Revolutionary Guard Chief Gen. Hossein Salami, the Guard’s Quds Force Leader Gen. Esmail Ghaani, civilian nuclear program chief Ali Akbar Sahei and Intelligence Minister Mamoud Alavi, attended the ceremony. They sat apart from each other and wore masks due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Hatami also criticized countries that hadn’t condemned Fakhrizadeh’s killing, warning: “This will catch up with you someday.” Overnight, the United Arab Emirates, which just reached a normalization deal with Israel, issued a statement condemning “the heinous assassination.” The UAE, home to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, warned it “could further fuel conflict in the region.”
Fakhrizadeh headed Iran’s so-called AMAD program, which Israel and the West have alleged was a military operation looking at the feasibility of building a nuclear weapon. The International Atomic Energy Agency says that “structured program” ended in 2003. US intelligence agencies concurred with that assessment in a 2007 report.
Israel insists Iran still maintains the ambition of developing nuclear weapons, pointing to Tehran’s ballistic missile program and research into other technologies. Iran long has maintained its nuclear program is peaceful.
Rita Osakwe/Agency Reports