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Iran awards posthumous medal to assassinated nuke chief for ‘defending nation’

Head of Iranian armed forces gives military decoration to Mohsen Fakhrizadeh’s family on behalf of supreme leader, says it’s ‘for dear ones who defend the Islamic Revolution’

Military personnel stand near the flag-draped coffin of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an assassinated top nuclear scientist during his funeral ceremony in Tehran, Iran, November 30, 2020. (Iranian Defense Ministry via AP)
Military personnel stand near the flag-draped coffin of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an assassinated top nuclear scientist during his funeral ceremony in Tehran, Iran, November 30, 2020. (Iranian Defense Ministry via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday posthumously awarded a prestigious military decoration to top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was assassinated last month, state television reported.

Fakhrizadeh was killed on a major road outside Tehran in late November in a bomb and gun attack that the Islamic Republic has blamed on Israel.

The broadcaster said the first class Order of Nasr (“Victory” in Persian), bearing Khamenei’s signature, was handed to the scientist’s family by the armed forces chief of staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri.

“This is a decoration meant for dear ones who defend the Islamic Revolution and Iran’s territorial integrity and independence,” Bagheri said.

He added that it is the highest medal awarded in recognition of logistics contribution and support of the troops.

In this picture released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, right, reviews armed forces with Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, during a graduation ceremony at Iran’s Air Defense Academy, in Tehran, Iran, October 30, 2019. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

After Fakhrizadeh’s death, Defense Minister Amir Hatami referred to him as his deputy minister and head of the ministry’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND), focusing on the field of “nuclear defense.”

Fakhrizadeh was named by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2018 as the director of Iran’s rogue nuclear weapons project. When Netanyahu revealed then that Israel had removed from a warehouse in Tehran a vast archive of Iran’s own material detailing its nuclear weapons program, he said: “Remember that name, Fakhrizadeh.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands in front of a picture of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who he named as the head of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, April 30, 2018 (YouTube screenshot)

He was also an officer in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, designated by the US as a terrorist organization.

Israel has long been suspected of carrying out a series of targeted killings of Iranian nuclear scientists nearly a decade ago, in a bid to curtail Iran’s rogue nuclear weapons program. It has made no official comment on the matter.

Israeli officials have warned Israeli citizens traveling abroad that they may be targets of Iranian terror attacks in the wake of the killing, and cautioned former Israeli nuclear scientists they could be in Iran’s crosshairs.

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