The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the terrorist wing of the Iranian military, vowed “severe revenge and punishment” this weekend against those responsible for the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, considered the country’s top nuclear scientist.
Fakhrizadeh died in an ambush attack on Friday, apparently in daylight and at the hands of unknown assassins. No individual or group has taken responsibility for his death but Iranian officials have universally accused the nation of Israel, which Tehran regularly threatens to destroy, of plotting the killing. Fakhrizadeh was officially the head of Iran’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, an agency within the Defense Ministry.
The IRGC is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, unique in that it is also a formal wing of the Iranian armed forces. In addition to the group’s threats, Iran’s Parliament is reportedly considering legislation to speed up Iranian nuclear development, including walking back provisions of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Iran is technically supposed to be reducing its nuclear capacity, not increasing it, as per the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal. While President Donald Trump withdrew America from the agreement, Iran officially remains committed to it as do the other signatories: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Germany.
As of September, Iran has stockpiled over ten times the amount of enriched uranium that the JCPOA allows, according to the United Nations.
Iran’s state-run PressTV propaganda outlet quoted the head of the IRGC, Major General Hossein Salami, threatening “severe revenge” in Fakhrizadeh’s name in remarks this weekend.
“The blind-hearted enemies of the Iranian nation, especially those who designed, perpetrated and supported this crime, should know that such crimes will not undermine the Iranians’ will and determination to continue this glorious and powerful path, and that a severe revenge and punishment is put on the agenda,” Salami reportedly said.
Salami made clear his threat was directed at Israel, calling the scientist’s death a “terrorist crime designed and directed by the fake, terrorist and infanticide Zionist regime.”
PressTV also quoted the head of the Quds Force, the IRGC’s foreign terrorist unit, asserting, “Israel’s death is near.”
“The enemy does not have the guts for a manly war with Iran. Israel’s death is near. There are the last struggles of the world’s bullies and international looters,” Esmail Qaani reportedly said. PressTV described the statement as a “tweet,” though Qaani does not appear to have an English-language Twitter account.
Qaani replaced predecessor Qasem Soleimani in January, who was removed from the battlefield in a U.S. airstrike against him while on a mission in Baghdad to aid Iran-backed militias. Soleimani was considered Iran’s chief terrorist mastermind and responsible for using improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in large quantities to kill and disfigure American soldiers. Reports at the time described Qaani as significantly less charismatic or capable than Soleimani, putting the future of the Quds Force in jeopardy.
Salami’s and Qaani’s messages echoed the statements from alleged Iranian diplomats.
“There is no doubt that the Islamic Republic of Iran will give a calculated and categorical response to those criminals who took Fakhrizadeh from the Iranian nation,” Kamal Kharrazi, the head of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, reportedly said on Sunday.
Iran’s U.N. representative, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres this weekend accusing Israel of perpetrating the act.
“The cowardly assassination of Martyr Fakhrizadeh — with serious indications of Israeli responsibility in it — is another desperate attempt to wreak havoc on our region as well as to disrupt Iran’s scientific and technological development,” Takht-Ravanchi reportedly wrote.
The letter went on to implicate the United States, as well: “Warning against any adventuristic measures by the United States and Israel against my country, particularly during the remaining period of the current administration of the United States in office, the Islamic Republic of Iran reserves its rights to take all necessary measures to defend its people and secure its interests.”
The letter ended, according to state media, by bizarrely praising the nuclear physicist for his alleged “significant role” in fighting the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. Iran has notoriously conducted one of the world’s least successful responses to the global crisis.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif used more tempered language regarding Iran’s planned response, stating on Twitter only that Iran will not allow “impunity.” Zarif described the culprits as a “terrorist regime,” leaving no option for non-state actors to have executed Fakhrizadeh.
Terror attack on our scientist was indubitably designed & planned by a terrorist regime & executed by criminal accomplices.
Shameful that some refuse to stand against terrorism and hide behind calls for restraint.
Impunity emboldens a terrorist regime with aggression in its DNA.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) November 28, 2020
Fars News, another Iranian regime outlet, reported on Sunday that Iranian lawmakers met to discuss “an urgent countermeasure plan that includes halt to the implementation of the Additional Protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).” As Iran’s Parliament is a rubber-stamp legislature, the move received near-unanimous support.
The bill will allow “resumption of 20% uranium enrichment, boosting use of IR6 and IR8 centrifuge machines, limiting IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] inspections by halting the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the NPT, and making another Arak Heavy Water reactor.”