Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has blamed Israel for the killing of a top nuclear scientist on Friday, and said it would not slow down the country’s nuclear programme.
Rouhani said Iran would retaliate over Mohsen Fakhrizadeh’s killing at a time of its choosing.
“Iran’s enemies should know that the people of Iran and officials are braver than to leave this criminal act unanswered,” he said in a televised cabinet meeting.
“In due time, they will answer for this crime,” he added.
In an earlier statement, the president accused the “the mercenaries of the oppressive Zionist regime” – referring to Israel – of being behind the attack.
“The assassination of martyr Fakhrizadeh shows our enemies’ despair and the depth of their hatred… His martyrdom will not slow down our achievements.”
Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also called for the “punishing” of the perpetrators of the attack “and those who commanded it”, in a tweet on Saturday.
His military adviser, Hossein Dehghan, had earlier vowed to “strike” the attackers like thunder.
Fakhrizadeh was killed in an ambush on his car by gunmen in the town of Absard, east of the capital Tehran.
Israel is still to comment on the killing, but in the past it had accused Fakhrizadeh of being behind a covert nuclear weapons programme.
Fakhrizadeh was Iran’s most renowned nuclear scientist, who headed the ministry of defence’s research and innovation organisation.
His killing threatens to escalate tensions over Iran’s nuclear programme with the US and its close ally Israel.