Turkey condemned on Saturday the “heinous assassination” of Iran’s top nuclear scientist and called for the perpetrators of the attack to be held accountable.
Turkey’s foreign ministry made this known in a statement.
The foreign ministry also urged “all sides to act with common sense and restraint” in the wake of Friday’s killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who Western and Israeli governments believe was the architect of a secret Iranian nuclear weapons programme.
Earlier, Iran’s supreme leader promised to retaliate for the killing, raising the threat of a new confrontation with the West and Israel in the remaining weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency.
“Once again, the evil hands of Global Arrogance and the Zionist mercenaries were stained with the blood of an Iranian son,” he said, using terms officials employ to refer to Israel.
Israeli cabinet minister Tzachi Hanegbi, a confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said he did not know who carried out the killing.
“I have no clue who did it. It’s not that my lips are sealed because I’m being responsible, I simply really have no clue,” he told N12’s Meet the Press.
Israel’s Army Radio said some Israeli embassies had been put on high alert after the Iranian threats of retaliation, though there were no reports of concrete threats. The radio’s military affairs correspondent said the army was on routine footing.
Netanyahu’s office has declined to comment on the killing of Fakhrizadeh and an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said the ministry did not comment on security regarding missions abroad.
The White House, Pentagon, U.S. State Department and CIA have also declined to comment on the killing, as has Biden’s transition team. Biden takes office on Jan. 20.
“Whether Iran is tempted to take revenge or whether it restrains itself, it will make it difficult for Biden to return to the nuclear agreement,” Amos Yadlin, a former Israeli military intelligence chief and director of Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, wrote on Twitter.
Under the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear work in return for the lifting of sanctions. Once Trump withdrew in 2018, U.S. sanctions were ramped up, driving down Iran’s vital oil exports and crippling the economy. Tehran, meanwhile, sped up its nuclear work.
Germany, a party to the nuclear pact, and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for restraint from all sides.