The scientist was laid to read in a cemetery north of the capital. At the funeral, images of Ayatollah Khamenei and General Soleimani were on display. President Rouhani pledged to take revenge in due course. But hardliners want immediate action, threatening the Israeli city of Haifa. The arrival of US president-elect Biden and the fate of the nuclear deal will come into the picture.
Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The funeral of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh took place in Iran today. He was assassinated last Friday on the outskirts of Tehran in an ambush whose authors and principals remain unknown.
Fakhrizadeh was buried in a cemetery north of Tehran at the end of a solemn ceremony with religious music that alluded to the martyrdom of Imam Husayn, a 7th century figure deemed holy in Shia Islam.
A large display showed a picture of the scientist next to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as well as former top General Qasem Soleimani, who was killed last January in a visit to Iraq.
President Hassan Rouhani said that the Islamic Republic would retaliate for the assassination in due course and would not be trapped by haste, especially on the eve of a transfer of power in the United States.
In Tehran, Iranian leaders are in fact closely monitoring the end of the Trump administration – which imposed the toughest sanctions in history after withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – and waiting for the arrival of his successor, Joe Biden.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was harsher in his statement, calling for a “definite punishment” for the scientist’s killers.
Parliament (Majlis) Speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf urged "a strong reaction" that would "deter and take revenge" on those behind the killing of the 59-year-old scientist.
In parliament, members called for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to be barred from the country's atomic sites. Others called for Iran to leave the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Israel has been blamed for the killing the “father” of Iran’s nuclear programme. President Rouhani dubbed the Jewish state Washington's "mercenary," called to do its dirty work on more than one occasion.
The Iranian English-language broadcaster PressTV claims that the weapon used to carry out the attack was Israeli-made, bearing the “logo and specifications of the Israeli military industry”.
The semi-official Fars agency reported that Fakhrizadeh was hit by a remote-controlled machine gun.
The Arabic-language channel Al Alam TV claims that weapons were “controlled by satellite", this despite the fact that a commando was present at the site where the ambush took place, as reported by some witnesses.
In Israel, Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen said he did not know who was responsible for the attack.
According to Israeli daily Haaretz, the assassination is clearly linked to Joe Biden’s arrival in the White House, a message to the president-elect about Israel’s dissatisfaction about the prospect of the US going back to the nuclear agreement.
Among Arab countries, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was among the first to condemn the assassination and to urge restraint among the parties.
However, in Iran some are blowing on the winds of war. The right-wing daily Kayhan, whose director is appointed by the supreme leader, called for strikes against the Israeli port city of Haifa if it were “proven” that Israel was behind the assassination.