UN human rights expert: Targeted killing violation of UN Charter
The assassination of prominent Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in an attack near the capital Tehran on Friday triggered international condolences and condemnations.
The European Union said in a statement on Saturday “this criminal act… runs counter to the principle of respect for human rights.”
The EU urged all parties “to remain calm and exercise maximum restraint in order to avoid escalation which cannot be in anyone’s interest.”
Germany, a European member of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, called for restraint on all sides to avoid derailing any future talks.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also urged restraint on Friday.
“We have noted the reports that an Iranian nuclear scientist has been assassinated near Tehran today. We urge restraint and the need to avoid any actions that could lead to an escalation of tensions in the region,” Guterres’ spokesman Farhan Haq said.
Agnes Callamard, the UN human rights expert and the special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, also condemned “the targeted killing” as a violation of the UN Charter and international human rights law.
“An extraterritorial targeted killing, outside an armed conflict is a violation of international human rights law prohibiting the arbitrary deprivation of life and a violation of the UN Charter prohibiting the use of force extraterritorially in times of peace,” she tweeted on Friday.
Act of ‘state-sponsored terrorism’
The former head of the US Central Intelligence Agency labeled Fakhrizadeh’s assassination a “criminal act” that risks inflaming conflict in the region.
John Brennan said he did not know who was to blame for the murder as Iran pointed its finger at Israel.
“This was a criminal act & highly reckless. It risks lethal retaliation & a new round of regional conflict,” Brennan said in a series of tweets.
“Such an act of state-sponsored terrorism would be a flagrant violation of international law & encourage more governments to carry out lethal attacks against foreign officials.”
A strong critic of US President Donald Trump, Brennan urged Tehran to “resist the urge” to retaliate and “wait for the return of responsible American leadership on the global stage,” a reference to November 3 election winner Joe Biden, who will replace Trump on January 20.
Brennan was director of the CIA from 2013 to 2017, under the administration of former president Barack Obama and then-vice president Biden.
Neither Trump nor Biden commented directly on Fakhrizadeh’s assassination, though the Republican president retweeted Israeli writer Yossi Melman, who said the scientist’s death “is a major psychological and professional blow for Iran.”
US Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said, “Every time America or an ally assassinates a foreign leader outside a declaration of war, we normalize the tactic as a tool of statecraft.”
Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser under Obama who helped lead the US efforts to secure the nuclear deal, tweeted Friday that the attack on Fakhrizadeh was “an outrageous action aimed at undermining diplomacy between an incoming US administration and Iran.”
Senior Swedish politician Carl Bildt suggested that the assassination could be part of plots to block Biden from reengaging in diplomacy with Iran, two years after outgoing President Trump pullout the US out of the 2015 nuclear deal and unleashed a campaign of “maximum pressure” against the Islamic Republic.
“It’s not unlikely that this targeted killing was part of efforts to prevent the Biden administration from reviving diplomacy with Iran and going back to the nuclear agreement,” the ex-Swedish premier said in a tweet.
Biden has said the US will rejoin the deal if Iran agrees to end the retaliatory measures it adopted in the aftermath of Washington’s exit from the agreement.
Attack sponsored by US, Israel
The deputy leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement said that the response for the assassination is in Iran’s hands.
“We condemn this heinous attack and see that the response to this crime is in the hands of those concerned in Iran,” Sheikh Naim Qassem said.
He said Fakhrizadeh was killed by “those sponsored by America and Israel” and the assassination was part of a war on Iran and the region.
The Palestinian Hamas resistance movement said the assassination came at the time when the US and the Tel Aviv regime are continuously threatening the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“Such moves are meant to deprive Iran and the Muslim world of possessing tools necessary for scientific progress and prowess. The Occupation [Israel] seeks to advance its expansionist policies in the region, and creation of chaos and instability would serve its interests,” Hamas said in a statement.
The Palestinian resistance movement commiserated with the Iranian nation and government over Fakhrizadeh’s assassination, noting, “We are confident that Iran and its nation will recover from the loss through more endeavor and progress, and will break the monopoly of arrogant powers on the factors of power and scientific progress in the region.”
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad resistance movement also strongly condemned the terrorist attack, stating that his assassination had all the hallmarks of a US-Zionist plot.
“This cowardly terrorist act was aimed at targeting the elements of renaissance and scientific progress in the Muslim world in general and the Islamic Republic of Iran in particular. The assassination of Fakhrizadeh was a desperate attempt to avenge Iran’s support for just causes of oppressed people in the world, especially the Palestinian cause. This sinful move will neither discourage Iran from maintaining its stances nor will weaken them,” the statement read.
AFP, Reuters, Al Jazeera, and Press TV contributed to this story