Sanders slams 'reckless, provocative’ assassination
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday urged the international community to condemn an act of “state terror” that led to the assassination of a senior Iranian nuclear scientist.
Zarif tweeted in German that the international community, particularly the European Union, must “abandon its shameful double standards.”
In another tweet, the top diplomat said the Friday assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh bears the hallmark of targeted killings carried out by Israel.
He cited “serious indications of Israel’s role” in the deadly attack and denounced the “cowardice” that characterizes the assassination as “an expression of the desperate warmongering of its perpetrators”.
Fakhrizadeh, 59, was assassinated after being seriously wounded when assailants targeted his car and engaged in a gunfight with his bodyguards in Absard, a town just east of the capital Tehran.
The scientist, who headed the Defense Ministry’s Research and Innovation Organization, succumbed to injuries after medics failed to revive him.
The body of the assassinated scientist was taken to several revered Shia Muslim shrines ahead of his burial set for Monday.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani pointed at Israel, saying it acted as a US "mercenary" and killed Fakhrizadeh.
The New York Times said an American official and two other intelligence officials had confirmed Israel was behind the attack, without giving further details.
Fakhrizadeh’s name was mentioned multiple times in a presentation in 2018 by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during which he repeated claims about the Iranian nuclear program.
Netanyahu described the scientist as the director of Iran’s nuclear program and said, “Remember that name, Fakhrizadeh.”
Israel made several attempts over the past years to throw a wrench in Tehran’s peaceful nuclear work.
The regime has been behind the assassination of several Iranian nuclear scientists. It has also conduced cyberattacks on Iranian nuclear sites.
Tweeting in English, Zarif said the terror attack “was indubitably designed & and planned by a terrorist regime & executed by criminal accomplices.”
He took swipe at countries and entities that “hide behind calls for restraint.”
“Shameful that some refuse to stand against terrorism and hide behind calls for restraint.”
Germany, the European Union and the UN secretary-general along with several other countries called for restraint in the wake of the attack.
British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab on Sunday called for de-escalation of tensions but stopped short of condemning the assassination.
"We are concerned about the situation in Iran and the wider region we do want to see de-escalation of tensions," Raab told Sky News.
"We're still waiting to see the full facts to address the full facts of what's happened in Iran but I would say that we stick to the rule of international humanitarian law which is very clear against targeting civilians."
Turkey said Sunday that the killing was an act of "terrorism" that "upsets peace in the region".
"We regret the death of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh following an armed attack. We condemn this heinous murder and offer our condolences to the Iranian government and the dead man's relatives," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"Turkey is against all initiatives aimed at disrupting peace in the region and against all forms of terrorism, no matter who their perpetrator or target are."
Ankara also urged "all parties to act with common sense and restraint".
Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani also condemned the assassination in a phone call on Saturday with Zarif.
Al Thani extended Qatar’s condolences to the government and the people of Iran and called for self-restraint.
Senior US Senator Bernie Sanders said the assassination was an "illegal" move aimed at undermining possible talks between Iran and the incoming US administration.
“The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was reckless, provocative, and illegal,” Sanders said in a tweet on Saturday.
“As a new administration takes power, it was clearly intended to undermine US-Iran diplomacy,” the top senator added.
“We must not allow that to happen. Diplomacy, not murder, is the best path forward.”
Reuters, AFP and Press TV contributed to this story.