Iran: Growing calls for revenge over scientist killing

Calls for revenge over the killing of Iran’s top nuclear scientist are growing louder with a series of demonstrations held across the country, including in the capital, Anadolu Agency reported.

The protesters in Tehran braving intense chill and heavy downpour turned up in front of the Parliament, the president’s office and the National Security Council to call for a strong response.

The calls have also come from top political and military officials, who have vowed “strong response” to the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

On Sunday, Iran’s Parliament held a closed-door session to discuss the scientist’s killing and sought a detailed briefing from the intelligence minister.

The house approved a strategic action plan to reduce cooperation with the UN nuclear agency in response to the killing.

Fakhrizadeh, who headed the research and innovation division at Iran’s Defense Ministry, was assassinated by unidentified assailants on the outskirts of capital Tehran on Friday.

He is the fifth Iranian nuclear scientist to be killed since 2010. Like on previous occasions, Iran sees the hand of arch-enemy Israel behind the killing that has re-ignited tensions.

Hard talk

On Sunday, the parliament approved a double-urgency bill under which the voluntary implementation of Additional Protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) would be reconsidered and terms of cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would change as well.

The move could also affect the future of the Iran nuclear deal signed between Tehran and the world powers in 2015. The US withdrew from the deal in 2018 but the incoming Biden administration has shown interest in returning to it.

Speaking on the sidelines of the session, Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, making a case for retaliation, said the “enemy will not regret [the act] except with a strong reaction [from Iran]”.

He said the killing should be turned into an “opportunity” to become stronger in the security and nuclear fields and stressed that the government in Tehran must not “send weak signals”.

Qalibaf’s statement was directed at the Hassan Rouhani-led government that appears to see the option of ‘military retaliation’ as not viable at this juncture.

Earlier, Deputy Speaker Syed Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh also criticized the Foreign Ministry for its “weakness in consensus building” as “no European country or the US Democrats condemned the assassination [of the scientist]”, he tweeted.

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