A former head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI) hinted that Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh had worked on a nuclear weapons program, despite a fatwa (Islamic legal ruling) issued against nuclear weapons by Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, in an interview with Iran's IRNA news agency on Saturday.
Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, the former head of the AEOI, told IRNA that despite Khamenei's fatwa, Fakhrizadeh had "created this system," adding that the scientist was tasked not just with defending Iran, but also with supporting the proxies backed by Iran.
"When you get into these issues, the Zionists become sensitive," said Abbasi-Davani, adding that Fakhrizadeh had "characteristics" that Israel recognized "needed to be physically eliminated." The former AEOI head added that Israel is looking for other similar targets.
The former AEOI head also told IRNA that he worked with Fakhrizadeh on "nuclear defense."
Abbasi claimed that Fakhrizadeh had been targeted by Iran's enemies for years, but "when the country's all-encompassing growth came concerning satellites, missiles, and nuclear weapons, and [Iran] crossed the various frontiers of knowledge, the issue became more serious for them."
Despite the statements hinting at a nuclear weapons program, the current head of the AEOI, Mohammad Eslami, stressed that Iran has shown that its nuclear path was "merely peaceful" during a ceremony marking the one-year anniversary since Fakhrizadeh was assassinated east of Tehran.
The statements also came as Iran and world powers are set to renew talks on the JCPOA nuclear deal on Monday.
Fakhrizadeh was shot and killed in Damavand, east of Tehran, last November. Iran has blamed Israel for the assassination and has threatened revenge. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the killing.
Documents revealed by Israel in 2018 showed that Fakhrizadeh led Project Amad, Iran's secret nuclear program which the country denied existed when it entered the JCPOA nuclear deal in 2015. Then prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that Fakhrizadeh continued work on nuclear weapons in the SPND, an organization inside Iran's Defense Ministry.