Iran’s top nuclear scientist, who American and Israeli intelligence have long charged was behind secret programs to design an atomic warhead, was shot and killed in an ambush on Friday as he was traveling in a vehicle in northern Iran, Iranian state media reported.
The scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, has been considered to be directing Iran’s nuclear weapons program for two decades, and continued to work after the main part of the effort was quietly dissolved in the early 2000s, according to American intelligence assessments and Iranian nuclear documents stolen by Israel.
Iranian officials, who have long maintained that their nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes, not for weapons, called the attack an act of terror and vowed to take revenge.
“Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today,” Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, wrote on Twitter. “This cowardice — with serious indications of Israeli role — shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators.”