Berlin has urged “all parties” to avoid escalating tensions following the assassination of a senior Iranian scientist in what Tehran suspects to be an Israeli operation. Iran’s leader has pledged to go after those responsible.

“A few weeks before the new US administration takes office, it is important to preserve the scope for talks with Iran so that the dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme can be resolved through negotiations,” a spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry told Reuters in an email.

We therefore urge all parties to refrain from any steps that could lead to a further escalation of the situation.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a senior Iranian nuclear physicist with close connections to the defense industry, was killed on Friday, reportedly by unidentified gunmen who ambushed his car outside of Tehran.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, pledged to “firmly prosecute” the “perpetrators and commanders” of the attack. Several top Iranian officials pointed towards Israel as the likely culprit.

Fakhrizadeh was dubbed “Iran’s Oppenheimer” by some Western media for allegedly leading a military nuclear program. Tehran denies ever trying to weaponize its nuclear industry.

In 2015, it agreed to some atomic restrictions in exchange for sanctions relief and other benefits, but the Trump administration broke its part of the multilateral agreement. Israel objected to the deal even before it was signed.

Germany is among the signatories of the JCPOA deal and has been vocally arguing for its preservation. However, the US withdrawal put European companies under threat of being sanctioned for doing business with Tehran. Iranian officials blame the European government for caving in to ‘bullying’ by Trump.

No party has immediately claimed responsibility for the ambush on Fakhrizadeh. Israel is yet to comment on the Iranian accusations.

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