Iran likely to hold off on retaliation over scientist's killing - U.S. envoy

By Humeyra Pamuk and Matt Spetalnick WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iran is unlikely to retaliate over the assassination of a prominent nuclear scientist before the inauguration of Joe Biden in case it jeopardizes any future sanctions relief, the top U.S. envoy on Iran told Reuters on Thursday. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who had little public profile in Iran but had been named by Israel as a prime player in what it says is Iran’s nuclear weapons quest, was killed on Friday when he was ambushed on a highway near Tehran and his car sprayed with bullets.

Reuters December 04, 2020 02:10:41 IST
Iran likely to hold off on retaliation over scientist's killing - U.S. envoy

Iran likely to hold off on retaliation over scientists killing  US envoy

By Humeyra Pamuk and Matt Spetalnick

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iran is unlikely to retaliate over the assassination of a prominent nuclear scientist before the inauguration of Joe Biden in case it jeopardizes any future sanctions relief, the top U.S. envoy on Iran told Reuters on Thursday.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who had little public profile in Iran but had been named by Israel as a prime player in what it says is Iran’s nuclear weapons quest, was killed on Friday when he was ambushed on a highway near Tehran and his car sprayed with bullets.

Elliott Abrams, Washington's special representative on Iran and Venezuela, said in an interview that Tehran was "desperately" in need of sanctions relief from the United States and that would be a key calculation in their decision-making as President-elect Biden takes over from President Donald Trump on Jan. 20.

"If they want sanctions relief, they know that they're going to need to enter some kind of negotiation after January 20, and it's got to be in their minds that they don't want to... undertake any activities between now and Jan 20 that make sanctions relief harder to get," he said.

Iran’s clerical and military rulers have blamed Israel for Fakhrizadeh's killing, which has raised the prospect of a new standoff between Tehran and its longtime enemy. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office has declined to comment on the killing.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have risen since 2018, when Trump abandoned Obama's 2015 nuclear deal, and restored harsh economic sanctions to pressure Tehran to negotiate stricter curbs on its nuclear program, ballistic missile development and support for regional proxy forces.

In retaliation, Tehran gradually breached the deal’s restrictions on its nuclear program. Biden has said he will return the United States to the deal if Iran resumes compliance.

Tehran has always denied seeking nuclear weapons.

Last week, Abrams said the Trump administration was planning to tighten sanctions on Tehran during its final weeks in power but also urged Biden to press for a deal that reduces the regional and nuclear threats posed by the Islamic Republic.

He added that he expected a negotiation to take place with Iran next year and that he believes a deal will be struck under the Biden administration.

Iran's clerical rulers have ruled out negotiations over its missile program or changing its regional policy. Instead it wants a change in U.S. policy, including the lifting of sanctions.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Mary Milliken and Toby Chopra)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.