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Iran says it won’t ‘fall in trap’ of scuttling future US talks

Both Israel and U.S. President Donald Trump oppose President-elect Joe Biden’s intention to rejoin the Obama-era nuclear accord if Tehran -- which denies bomb-making ambitions -- also returns to full compliance.

By: Bloomberg | Updated: November 30, 2020 8:44:55 am
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister, IsraelIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Abir Sultan /Pool via REUTERS)

Written by Arsalan Shahla and Golnar Motevalli

Iran vowed it won’t “fall into the trap” of scuppering any future talks with the incoming Biden government following the assassination of a top nuclear scientist.

“Iran’s scientific and defense policies won’t change because of the assassination of one scientist or general,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei said in a statement Sunday posted on the government’s official website. The Islamic Republic “shouldn’t fall into the trap of linking the assassination to past nuclear negotiations,” he said.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a veteran physicist who played a major role in Iran’s nuclear research and defense activities, was killed in a bombing and shooting ambush outside Tehran on Friday. Iran has blamed Israel, which had accused Fakhrizadeh of masterminding a secret nuclear bomb project and hasn’t commented on the allegation.

Both Israel and U.S. President Donald Trump oppose President-elect Joe Biden’s intention to rejoin the Obama-era nuclear accord if Tehran — which denies bomb-making ambitions — also returns to full compliance. Trump, who pulled the U.S. out of the deal in 2018 and imposed crippling sanctions on Iran, considered attacking it during his last few weeks in office but was dissuaded by senior aides, the New York Times has reported. Killing Fakhrizadeh, who is to be buried in Tehran on Monday, could also complicate a return to the accord.

“This assassination will not remain unanswered, but not at a time that they want or the way and place they expect,” Rabiei said, referring to Israel and the U.S. “Iran sets the time and the place.”

Hardliners inside Iran are angry at President Hassan Rouhani for trying to keep the 2015 deal alive while attacks continue on Iran. Friday’s incident tops a year of crisis and instability that started with Trump ordering the killing of a top Iranian general in a Jan. 3 drone strike in Baghdad.

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