UK non-committal whether Israel was behind assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist

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UK non-committal whether Israel was behind assassination of Iranian nuclear scientistLondon, (The Muslim News): Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, was non-committal whether Israel was behind the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh but insisted that Britain was against the targeting of civilians.

Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, has no doubt that Israel was behind Friday’s killing of the head of the country’s Research and Innovation Organization , saying that his nation is “smarter than falling into the trap of the Zionists” but will respond to the assassination in proper time.

Many others have also pointed the finger at Israel after previously being held responsible for a trail of assassination inside Iran, while Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has urged the international community particularly the European Union to stop double standards and condemn assassination.

“I don’t have any idea or facts to be able to answer at this point,” Raab said after being questioned on Sky’s Sophy Ridge asking if he did not think Israel has to answer on the assassination as Iran suggests.

“We are still waiting to see full facts to ascertain what is happening in Iran. We stick to the rule of international humanitarian law which is very clear against targeting civilians,” the British Foreign Secretary also said.

The US has been uncommonly quiet too on the killing although President Donald Trump retweeted other comments on the incident, including at least one that said the scientist had been “wanted for many years by Mossad,” the Israeli intelligence agency.

The New York Times earlier reported that an American official and two other intelligence officials confirmed Israel was behind the attack, but without giving further details

No less than four top-ranking Iranian nuclear scientists have been the target of assassination attempts since 2010 blamed on Israel, including the murder of Masoud Alimohammadi, a quantum field theorist and elementary-particle physicist, outside his house in Tehran and two professors working on nuclear energy at the Shahid Beheshti University in 2010.

The following year Darioush Rezaeinejad became the next Iranian nuclear physicist to be assassinated when he was fatally shot and in 2012 Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, who was also commerce deputy of the Natanz nuclear power plant, was assassinated in eastern Tehran.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has also so far declined to comment, as did officials at the Pentagon, while the Central Intelligence Agency didn’t immediately respond to questions about whether the U.S. had knowledge of plans to carry out an assassination.

The European Union on Saturday condemned the killing as a “criminal act” and said in such uncertain times, it is more important than ever for all parties to remain calm and exercise maximum restraint.

“This is a criminal act and runs counter to the principle of respect for human rights the EU stands for,” said Peter Sano, lead spokesperson for the external affairs division of the European Union, based in Brussels.

The timing of the assassination coincides with a new Democrat administration due to come to power in Washington following the election of Joe Biden and the expectations of the US looking again at the international nuclear deal which Trump unilaterally withdrew from.

“What we want to see (if) there’s an opportunity to look at JCPOA again with the new Biden administration,” Raab said. “Right upto Christmas I will be meeting with my E3 colleagues and with Iran if they want to attend, to make sure we hold them to account an also try and find a peaceful path through.”

[Photo: Coffin of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh leaving Imam Reza Shrine in Mashhad on November 29, 2020. Photograph of Iranian Defense Ministry/AA]

By Hamed Chapman