(Reuters) – Iran’s English-language Press TV reported on Monday that the weapon used in the assassination of prominent Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh last week was manufactured in Israel.
“The weapon that was recovered from the site of the terrorist act (where Fakhri Zadeh was assassinated) bears the slogan and specifications of the Israeli military industry,” a source asked not to be named told TV Press.
In Jerusalem, there was no response from Israeli officials contacted for comment on the report.
Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency said on Sunday that Fakhrizadeh was assassinated with a remote-controlled automatic cannon, while the Arabic-language Al-Alam TV said the weapons used in Zade’s assassination were “controlled via satellites.”
On Friday, eyewitnesses told state television that there were gunmen near the car.
Before the Press TV report, Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen told 103 FM Radio on Monday that he did not know who was responsible.
Fakhrizadeh was assassinated on Friday when he was ambushed on a highway near Tehran, and his car came under fire. Although he was in hiding, Israel referred to him by name and described him as a major player in accusing Iran of seeking to gain nuclear weapons.
Religious and military leaders in Iran said Israel was responsible for the assassination of Fakhrizadeh, raising the risk of a new confrontation with the West and Israel in the remaining weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency.
The militant daily Kayhan, whose editor-in-chief is appointed by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has called for an attack on the coastal city of Haifa in Israel if it is proven that Israel had a role in Fakhrizadeh’s death.
“The attack must be carried out in a manner that foresees heavy casualties besides destroying the facilities,” Saadallah Zarei said in an opinion piece for the newspaper.
But Iran’s rulers are aware of the grave military and political difficulties involved in launching an attack on Israel. Such an attack would complicate any efforts by US President-elect Joe Biden to revive rapprochement with Tehran after he takes office on January 20.
Tensions have escalated between Tehran and Washington since 2018 when US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal with the six major world powers and reimposed sanctions that hurt the Iranian economy. In response, Iran gradually violated restrictions the deal placed on its nuclear program.
Biden had announced that he would return the United States to the agreement if Iran returned to abide by its terms. Iran has always denied it is seeking nuclear weapons.