‘Definitive Punishment’: Iran Supreme Leader Demands Retribution For Assassination Of Top Nuclear Scientist

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Iran’s supreme leader vowed severe retribution on Saturday for the reported assassination of the country’s top nuclear scientist, the latest Iranian nuclear scientist to be killed.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei demanded that those responsible for the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who he called a “martyr,” receive a “definitive punishment,” according to The Associated Press. Fakhrizadeh, who was believed to be in charge of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, was reportedly assassinated on Friday in an attack carried out by at least five gunmen.

“One of our country’s eminent scientists in the nuclear and defense fields – Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh – has been martyred by brutal mercenaries,” Khamenei said in a statement. “With his great, enduring scientific efforts, he sacrificed his life on the path of God and the lofty status of martyrdom is his divine reward.”

Khamenei added that all “relevant administrators” must investigate the assassination and said Fakhrizadeh’s scientific efforts should be continued. (RELATED: Former CIA Director John O. Brennan Says Murder Of Iranian Nuclear Scientist Was ‘A Criminal Act’)

While Khamenei didn’t elaborate on who should be punished or investigated for the assassination, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blamed Israel during a televised cabinet meeting Saturday, NBC News reported.

“Our people are wiser than to fall in the trap of the Zionist regime (Israel) … Iran will surely respond to the martyrdom of our scientist at the proper time,” Rouhani said, according to NBC News.

Iranian ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht-Ravanchi said in a letter to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that there were “serious indications of Israeli responsibility,” according to state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.

The U.S. assassinated Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani in a January airstrike. Following the attack, Khamenei said a “harsh retaliation is waiting” for the U.S.

Iran fired ballistic missiles near U.S. bases in Iraq one week after Soleimani’s death, according to BBC. There were no reported deaths, the Military Times reported.

At least five Iranian nuclear scientists have been killed since 2007, according to NBC News.

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