A top Iranian security official has accused Israel of using “electronic devices” to remotely kill a scientist who founded the Islamic Republic’s military nuclear program in the 2000s.
Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the country’s Supreme National Security Council, made the comment on Monday to Iranian state television at the funeral for Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, where Iran’s defence minister separately vowed to continue the man’s work “with more speed and more power”.
Israel, suspected of killing several Iranian nuclear scientists in the past decade, has declined to comment on the attack.
Mr Fakhrizadeh headed Iran’s so-called AMAD program, which Israel and the West have alleged was a military operation looking at the feasibility of building a nuclear weapon.
The International Atomic Energy Agency says that “structured program” ended in 2003. US intelligence agencies concurred with that assessment in a 2007 report.
Israel insists Iran still wants to develop nuclear weapons, pointing to Tehran’s ballistic missile program and research into other technologies. Iran long has maintained its nuclear program is peaceful.
Mr Shamkhani’s remarks drastically change the story of Mr Fakhrizadeh’s killing. Authorities initially said after the death on Friday (local time) that a truck exploded and then gunmen opened fire on the scientist, killing him.
State TV’s English-language Press TV earlier reported a weapon recovered from the scene of the attack bore “the logo and specifications of the Israeli military industry”.
State TV’s Arabic-language channel, Al-Alam, claimed the weapons used were “controlled by satellite”, a claim also made Sunday by the semiofficial Fars news agency.
None of the outlets immediately offered evidence supporting their claims.
“Unfortunately, the operation was a very complicated operation and was carried out by using electronic equipment,” Mr Shamkhani said. “No individual was present at the site.”