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The Iranian ministry of defense issued a statement on Friday confirming the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadhe, an Iranian scientist and the architect behind the Islamic Republic’s military nuclear program.

Why it matters: Fakhrizadhe was the head of the Amad project in the Iranian ministry of defense, which focused on developing a nuclear bomb until 2003.

  • In 2018, after Israel exposed the Iranian nuclear archives, which the Mossad captured in Tehran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outed Fakhrizade publicly and dubbed him "the father of the Iranian nuclear bomb."

Details: Fakhrizadhe was attacked while driving his car in a Tehran suburb, according to the ministry's statement. During a shootout, he was critically injured and rushed to the hospital where he died.

What they're saying: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blamed Israel for the assassination, writing on Twitter:

"Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today. This cowardice—with serious indications of Israeli role—shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators,"

Zarif called on the international community — and especially EU — to condemn the assassination.

  • Hossein Dehghan, the military adviser to Iran's supreme leader, blamed Israel and the Trump administration for the killing. "In the last days of the political life of their gambling ally, the Zionists seek to intensify and increase the pressure on Iran to wage a full-fledged war," Dehghan wrote in a tweet.
  • Hossein Salami, commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, tweeted on Friday: "The assassination of nuclear scientists is the most obvious violent confrontation of the imperialist system to prevent us from gaining access to modern science."

Go deeper

Jan 28, 2021 - World

Israel's chief epidemiologist creates diplomatic incident with UAE

Israeli travelers arrive in Dubai. Photo: Karim Sahib/AFP via Getty Images

A remark by Israel’s chief epidemiologist suggesting the opening of direct flights from Dubai to Tel Aviv had led to COVID-19 deaths in Israel resulted in diplomatic protests from the UAE, Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: Direct flights were one of the main fruits of the Israel-UAE peace treaty, and around 130,000 Israeli tourists have taken advantage by flying to Dubai since December.

Why migrants are fleeing their homes for the U.S.

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios Photo: Herika Martinez /Getty Images 

Natural disasters in Central America, economic devastation, gang wars, political oppression, and a new administration are all driving the sharp rise in U.S.-Mexico border crossings — a budding crisis for President Biden.

Why it matters: Migration flows are complex and quickly politicized. Biden's policies are likely sending signals that are encouraging the surge — but that's only a small reason it's happening.

Cities' pandemic struggle to balance homelessness and public safety

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Addressing homelessness has taken on new urgency in cities across the country over the past year, as officials grapple with a growing unhoused population and the need to preserve public safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: It’s led to tension when cities move in to clear encampments — often for health and safety reasons — causing some to rethink the role of law enforcement when interacting with people experiencing homelessness.