Iran Holds Funeral for Fakhrizadeh; State TV Says Assassination Weapons Made in Israel

Israel, suspected of killing Iranian nuclear scientists over the past decade, says doesn't know who was behind the killing of nuclear arms head

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Members of Iranian forces carry the coffin of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh during a funeral ceremony in Tehran, Iran, November 30, 2020.
Members of Iranian forces carry the coffin of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh during a funeral ceremony in Tehran, Iran, November 30, 2020. Credit: Iranian Defense Ministry / WANA (West Asia News Agency) / Reuters
Reuters
The Associated Press

Iran's English-language Press TV said on Monday that the weapon used in the killing of a prominent Iranian nuclear scientist last week was made in Israel.

"The weapon collected from the site of the terrorist act (where Fakhrizadeh was assassinated) bears the logo and specifications of the Israeli military industry," an unnamed source told Press TV.

In Jerusalem, there was no immediate reply from Israeli officials contacted for comment on the report.

Also on Monday, Iran held a funeral service for the slain scientist who founded its military nuclear program two decades ago, with its defense minister Gen. Amir Hatami vowing to continue Mohsen Fakhrizadeh's work "with more speed and more power," and promising that the Islamic Republic would retaliate for his killing.

Members of Iranian forces carry the coffin of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh during a funeral ceremony in Tehran, Iran November 30, 2020.Credit: Iranian Defense Ministry / West Asia News Agency / Reuters

Speaking before the Press TV report, Israel's Intelligence Affairs Minister Eli Cohen told 103 FM Radio on Monday that he did not know who was responsible.

Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency reported on Sunday that Fakhrizadeh was assassinated by a remote-controlled machine gun that was detonated after the attack, while the Arabic language Al Alam TV reported that the weapons used in Fakhrizadeh's killing were "controlled by satellite." 

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Israel, suspected of killing Iranian nuclear scientists over the past decade, has not commented on Friday's slaying of Fakhrizadeh.

A senior Israeli official told the New York Times on Sunday, speaking on condition of anonymity, that the world should thank Israel for killing the father of Iran's nuclear weapons program, citing the global threat such arms would pose.

When asked about potential Iranian reprisals, Cohen told 103 FM Radio: "We have regional intelligence supremacy, and on this matter we are prepared, we are increasing vigilance, in the places where that is required."

The New York Times reported that intelligence officials attributed the assassination to Israel, and Iranian leaders have threatened harsh retaliation. Iranian President Hassan Rohani explicitly blamed Israel and warned that Tehran would retaliate “at the proper time.” Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, the chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, blamed “the Zionists.” 

Iran's hardline Kayhan daily, whose editor-in-chief is appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in an opinion piece on Sunday called for an attack on the Israeli port city of Haifa, if an Israeli role in Fakhrizadeh's killing is proven. 

However, Iran's rulers are aware of daunting military and political difficulties in attacking Israel. Such an attack would also complicate any effort by U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to revive detente with Tehran after he takes office on January 20.

Tensions have increased between Tehran and Washington since 2018, when Trump exited Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with six powers and reimposed sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy.

In retaliation, Tehran gradually breached the deal's curbs on its nuclear program. Biden has said he will return the United States to the deal if Iran resumes compliance.

Tehran has always denied seeking nuclear weapons.

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