EU Urges Restraint After 'Criminal' Killing of Iranian Nuke Scientist

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At a protest in Tehran against the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a sign reads "Revenge means that Tel Aviv will burn with fire," alongside a picture of the slain scientist, Iran, November 28, 2020.
At a protest in Tehran against the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a sign reads "Revenge means that Tel Aviv will burn with fire," alongside a picture of the slain scientist, Iran, November 28, 2020.Credit: Majid Asgaripour / WANA / Reuters

The European Union condemned Friday's killing of a chief Iranian nuclear scientist long suspected by the West of leading a secret nuclear bomb program, referring to it as a "criminal act."

Extending condolences to his family, the statement urged all sides to exercise "maximum restraint" to avoid escalating tensions, in a statement issued Saturday.

"On 27 November 2020 in Absard, Iran, an Iranian government official and several civilians were killed in a series of violent attacks. This is a criminal act and runs counter to the principle of respect for human rights the EU stands for," the EU said in its statement.

"The High Representative expresses his condolences to the family members of the individuals who were killed, while wishing a prompt recovery to any other individuals who may have been injured. 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 added.

On Saturday, Israel put its embassies around the world on high alert after Iranian threats of retaliation, Channel 12 News reported.

A spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry said the ministry did not comment on matters of security regarding its representatives abroad.

Germany echoed the EU's call for all sides to show restraint in an emailed statement on Saturday: "A few weeks before the new U.S. administration takes office, it is important to preserve the scope for talks with Iran so that the dispute over Iran's nuclear program can be resolved through negotiations."

The spokesman added, "We therefore urge all parties to refrain from any steps that could lead to a further escalation of the situation."

Syria's Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad on Saturday also accused Israel and "those who supported it," an act he said would only fuel more tensions in the region.

Mekdad was quoted by Syrian state media as telling the Iranian envoy in Damascus that Syria was confident Iran would confront what he called the "terrorist act" behind Friday's killing of, the country's top nuclear scientist.

In a phone call with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Jawad Zarif, Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani condemned the killing, extended Qatar's condolences to the Iranian government and people of Iran, and called for self-restraint, said the Qatari Foreign Ministry in a statement Saturday evening.

On Saturday, Israel put its embassies around the world on high alert after Iranian threats of retaliation, Channel 12 News reported.

A spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry said the ministry did not comment on matters of security regarding its representatives abroad.

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