Democrats Erupt After Scientist Behind Iran’s ‘Clandestine Nuclear Ambitions’ Is Killed

Democrats lashed out on Friday in response to the news that the scientist who was at the center of Iran’s clandestine nuclear ambitions had been killed in an attack.

“Iran’s top nuclear scientist, who American and Israeli intelligence have long charged was behind secret programs to design an atomic warhead, was shot and killed in an ambush on Friday as he was traveling in a vehicle in northern Iran,” The New York Times reported. “The scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, believed to be 59, has been considered the driving force behind Iran’s nuclear weapons program for two decades, and continued to work after the main part of the effort was quietly disbanded in the early 2000s.”

The attack comes after President Donald Trump was reportedly dissuaded from attacking a nuclear facility in Iran a couple of weeks ago after he spoke with top U.S. officials about the idea. The attack also comes just days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met in Saudi Arabia for talks.

News that Fakhrizadeh had been killed rankled Democrats, who called the action a “criminal act.”

“This was a criminal act & highly reckless. It risks lethal retaliation & a new round of regional conflict,” former Obama-era CIA Director John Brennan said. “Iranian leaders would be wise to wait for the return of responsible American leadership on the global stage & to resist the urge to respond against perceived culprits.”

“I do not know whether a foreign government authorized or carried out the the murder of Fakhrizadeh. Such an act of state-sponsored terrorism would be a flagrant violation of international law & encourage more governments to carry out lethal attacks against foreign officials,” he continued. “These assassinations are far different than strikes against terrorist leaders & operatives of groups like al-Qaida & Islamic State, which are not sovereign states. As illegitimate combatants under international law, they can be targeted in order to stop deadly terrorist attacks.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) slammed Brennan in response, writing: “It’s bizarre to see a former head of the CIA consistently side with Iranian zealots who chant ‘Death to America.’ And reflexively condemn Israel. Does Joe Biden agree?”

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who has defended Iran in the past, wrote: “Speaking out against violations of international law isn’t partisan issue, it’s also not being on the side of Iran. It’s about balance and not plunging the world into more chaotic state than we are already in. Read John’s thread.”

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) wrote on Twitter: “If the primary purpose of the killing of Mr. Fakhrizadeh was to make it harder to restart the Iran nuclear agreement, then this assassination does not make America, Israel or the world safer.”

Former Obama national security adviser Ben Rhodes wrote: “This is an outrageous action aimed at undermining diplomacy between an incoming US administration and Iran. It’s time for this ceaseless escalation to stop.”

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