UAE condemns 'heinous' killing of Iran scientist

©Al-Araby Al-Jadeed

The United Arab Emirates on Sunday condemned the "heinous" killing of a top Iranian nuclear scientist that Tehran has blamed on Israel, urging all parties to exercise restraint.

"The UAE condemns assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh and (calls) on all parties to exercise self-restraint to avoid dragging region into new levels of instability and threat to peace," the foreign ministry tweeted.

It described Fakhrizadeh's killing as an "heinous crime".

Fakhrizadeh, dubbed by Israel as the "father" of Iran's nuclear programme, was fatally wounded Friday when assailants targeted his car and engaged in a gunfight with his bodyguards outside Tehran, according to Iran's defence ministry.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has stressed the country will seek its revenge in "due time" and not be rushed into a "trap".

He pinned the blame on "the wicked hands of the global arrogance, with the usurper Zionist regime as the mercenary". Iran generally uses the term "global arrogance" to refer to the US.

Israel has not officially commented on Fakhrizadeh's killing, however a senior Israeli official told NYT that the killed Iranian scientist was a menace and that the world "should thank Israel".

The official, responsible for tracking Mohsen Fakhrizadeh for years, requested anonymity to speak about the covert operations, NYT reported on Saturday.

The incident took place less than two months before US President-elect Joe Biden is set to take office after four years of hawkish foreign policy under President Donald Trump.

Trump withdrew the US from a multilateral nuclear agreement with Iran in 2018 and then reimposed and beefed up punishing sanctions as part of its "maximum pressure" campaign against Tehran.

Biden has signalled his administration may be prepared to rejoin the accord, but the nuclear scientist's assassination has revived opposition to the deal among Iranian conservatives.

Iran has responded to the US withdrawal from the 2015 deal by gradually abandoning most of its key nuclear commitments under the agreement.

The head of Iran's Expediency Council, a key advisory and arbitration body, said there was "no reason why (Iran) should not reconsider the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty".

Mohsen Rezai said Tehran should also halt implementation of the additional protocol, a document prescribing intrusive inspections of Iran's nuclear facilitates.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called Saturday for Fakhrizadeh's killers to be punished.

Read also: Iran accuses Israel of assassinating scientist and seeking 'chaos'

Parliament speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf called Sunday for "a strong reaction" that would "deter and take revenge" on those behind the killing of Fakhrizadeh, who was aged 59 according to Iranian media.

The scientist's body was taken for a ceremony on Sunday at a major shrine in the holy city of Qom before being transported to the shrine of the Islamic republic's founder Imam Khomeini, according to Iranian media.

Fakhrizadeh's funeral will be held Monday in the presence of senior military commanders and his family, the defence ministry said on its website, without specifying where.

The strongly-worded UAE condemnation comes weeks after the Gulf nation normalised ties with Israel.

Britain, a party to the nuclear accord, also on said Sunday it was "concerned" about possible escalation of tensions in the Middle East following the assassination, while Turkey called the killing an act of "terrorism" that "upsets peace in the region".

Agencies contributed to this report.

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