A top scientist seen as the father of Iran's nuclear weapons program has been assassinated, Iranian media reports

  • Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh has been assassinated, Iranian media reports.
  • Fakhrizadeh, a former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps officer and physics professor who is widely seen as the father of Iran's nuclear weapons program, was attacked outside Tehran, per the reports.
  • He reportedly died in the hospital after a medical team was unable to revive him.
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Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated Friday, Iranian media reported.

Fakhrizadeh, a former officer in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and physics professor, is top scientist widely seen as the father of Iran's nuclear weapons program.

Unidentified assailants reportedly targeted Fakhrizadeh while he was traveling on a road in Absard county about 40 miles outside the Iranian capital of Tehran.

Iranian state media, according to Reuters, reported that "news sources say a scientist has been the victim of an assassination attempt in an armed attack by unknown people on his team of bodyguards."

Tasnim News Agency, which has links to the IRGC, reported that Fakhrizadeh "was assassinated by unknown attackers after clash with his bodyguards."

Citing the Iranian defense ministry, Fars News Agency, another IRGC-linked outlet, reported that the prominent scientist died in the hospital following unsuccessful attempts by a medical team to save him. Iranian state media reported the same, according to the New York Times.

Following news of Fakhrizadeh's death, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif pointed the finger at Israel, tweeting that "Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today. This cowardice—with serious indications of Israeli role—shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators."

A 2012 Wall Street Journal article citing Western officials said that Fakhrizadeh has been widely compared to Robert Oppenheimer, the American physicist behind the US push to develop atomic weaponry.

The article said that the Iranian scientist "helped push Iran into its nuclear age over the past two decades" and that as an IRGC officer, he was heavily involved in Iran's nuclear weapons research.

A Western diplomat told Reuters four years ago that "if Iran ever chose to weaponize (enrichment), Fakhrizadeh would be known as the father of the Iranian bomb."

And, in a 2018 presentation on Iran's nuclear ambitions Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu named the scientist as a major player in Iran's nuclear activities, saying at the time: "Remember that name, Fakhrizadeh."

This post will be updated as more information becomes available.

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