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Iran’s leader promises retaliation for nuclear scientist’s killing

Israel has declined to comment on the killing. The White House, Pentagon, U.S. State Department and CIA also declined to comment, as did Biden’s transition team.

‘REMEMBER THAT NAME’

At least four scientists were killed between 2010 and 2012 in what Tehran said was a program of assassinations aimed at sabotaging its nuclear energy program. Iran has always denied pursuing nuclear weapons, saying its aims are only peaceful.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency reported that an explosive-laden car exploded near Fakhrizadeh’s vehicle and one of the assassins then sprayed it bullets. The scientist was taken to a hospital nearby, where he died.

Fakhrizadeh had no public profile, but was thought to have headed what the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), U.N. nuclear watchdog, and the U.S. intelligence services believe was Iran’s nuclear arms program, shelved in 2003.

He was the only Iranian scientist named in the IAEA’s 2015 “final assessment” of open questions about Iran’s nuclear program. It said he oversaw activities “in support of a possible military dimension to (Iran’s) nuclear program.”

He was a central figure in a presentation by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2018 accusing Iran of continuing to seek nuclear weapons. “Remember that name, Fakhrizadeh,” Netanyahu said at the time.

U.S. intelligence services and the International Atomic Energy Agency believe Iran halted its coordinated weapons program in 2003.

The IAEA said it had no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009.

(Additional reporting by Francois Murphy in Vienna; Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Frances Kerry and Edmund Blair)

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