Iran will give a "calculated and decisive" response to the killing of its top nuclear scientist, said a top adviser to Iran's supreme leader.
"Undoubtedly, Iran will give a calculated and decisive answer to the criminals who took Martyr Mohsen Fakhrizadeh from the Iranian nation," Kamal Kharrazi, who is also head of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, said in a statement.
Fakhrizadeh, long suspected by Western and Israeli government of masterminding a secret nuclear weapons program, was ambushed on a highway near Tehran on Friday and gunned down in his car.
The clerical and military rulers have blamed Israel for the killing. Iran has in the past accused Israel of killing several Iranian nuclear scientists since 2010.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office has declined to comment on the killing. An Israeli cabinet minister, Tzachi Hanegbi, said on Saturday he did not know who carried it out.
Also Sunday, Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei said Tehran won’t “fall into the trap” of scuppering any future talks with the incoming Biden administration following Fakhrizadeh’s assassination.
“Iran’s scientific and defense policies won’t change because of the assassination of one scientist or general,” Rabiei said in a statement posted on the government’s official website. Iran “shouldn’t fall into the trap of linking the assassination to past nuclear negotiations,” he said.
Tensions have been high between Tehran and Washington since 2018, when President Donald Trump exited Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with six major powers and reimposed sanctions that have hit Iran's economy hard. In retaliation, Tehran has gradually breached the deal's curbs on its nuclear program.
President-elect Joe Biden has said he will return the United States to the deal if Iran resumes compliance. Iran has always denied pursuing nuclear weapons.