New Delhi: The Iranian state television on Friday reported that a scientist who allegedly led a military nuclear program of the country in early 2000s has been “assassinated”. Also Read - I Don't Trust Them: Iran's Supreme Leader Orders Ban on Coronavirus Vaccines from US, Britain

The deceased – Mohsen Fakhrizadeh – was known as Iran’s top nuclear scientist. Confirming the news, Iran’s Defence Ministry said the alleged head of its nuclear weapons program was assassinated on Friday near the capital Tehran. Also Read - Iranian Instagram Sensation ‘Zombie Angelina Jolie’ Freed From Prison on Bail Days After 10 Year Sentence

“This Friday afternoon, armed terrorist elements attacked a car carrying Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, head of the Ministry of Defense’s Research and Innovation Organization,” it said. “During the clash between his security team and the terrorists, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was seriously injured and taken to hospital,” it added. Also Read - Iran Executes Journalist Who Inspired Nationwide Economic Protests in 2017

“Unfortunately, the medical team did not succeed in reviving him, and a few minutes ago, this manager and scientist, after years of effort and struggle, achieved a high degree of martyrdom,” it further said.

There was no clarity on whether the attackers had escaped. Israel had once alleged that Mohsen Fakhrizadeh led a military nuclear program in the early 2000s.

Fakhrizadeh was named by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2018 as the director of Iran’s 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 with its nuclear weapons program, he said: “Remember that name, Fakhrizadeh.”

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 nuclear program. It made no comment on the matter on Friday.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. However, Iranian media all noted the interest that Netanyahu had previously shown in Fakhrizadeh.

Fakhrizadeh led Iran’s so-called “Amad,” or “Hope” program. Israel and the West have alleged it was a military operation looking at the feasibility of building a nuclear weapon in Iran. Tehran has for long maintained that its nuclear program is peaceful.

The International Atomic Energy Agency claims that the “Amad” program ended in the early 2000s. Its inspectors are now monitor Iranian nuclear sites.