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Nation & World

Top Iranian Nuclear Scientist Assassinated, State Media Reports

This photo released by the semiofficial Fars News Agency shows the scene where Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was reportedly killed in Absard, a small city just east of Tehran, Iran, on Friday. Fakhrizadeh, an Iranian scientist that Israel alleged led the Islamic Republic's military nuclear program until its disbanding in the early 2000s, was "assassinated" Friday, state television said.
This photo released by the semiofficial Fars News Agency shows the scene where Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was reportedly killed in Absard, a small city just east of Tehran, Iran, on Friday. Fakhrizadeh, an Iranian scientist that Israel alleged led the Islamic Republic's military nuclear program until its disbanding in the early 2000s, was "assassinated" Friday, state television said.

A top Iranian scientist believed to be responsible for developing the country's military nuclear program has been killed, Iranian state television said Friday.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed while in a car just outside the capital of Tehran by attackers using explosives and machine guns, the state media said, describing the assailants as "armed terrorist elements." The scientist was rushed to a local hospital where doctors were unable to revive him. Iran's defense minister has confirmed his death, Iran's Fars News Agency reported.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but some Iranian officials said they believe Israel played a role. "Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientists today," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Twitter. "This cowardice — with serious indications of Israeli role — shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators."

The Israeli government had no immediate comment on Fakhrizadeh's killing.

In April 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had mentioned the scientist when discussing Iran's nuclear program. "Remember that name, Fakhrizadeh," he said, while announcing that the Israeli spy agency Mossad had stolen documents from Iran about its covert nuclear activities.

Fakhrizadeh, a professor of physics at Imam Hussein University in Tehran, was the former head of Iran's Physics Research Center.

NPR's Peter Kenyon and Daniel Estrin contributed to this report.

This article will be updated.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.