DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs on Tuesday criticised Iran’s foreign minister for implicating Riyadh in the killing of prominent Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
“Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif is desperate to blame the Kingdom for anything negative that happens in Iran. Will he blame us for the next earthquake or flood?,” minister Adel Al-Jubeir said in a tweet.
Jubeir’s remarks appeared to be a response to comments made on Monday by Mohammad Javad Zarif which suggested a covert meeting in Saudi Arabia between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu contributed to the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
“(U.S. Secretary of State Mike) Pompeo’s hurried trips to the region, the trilateral meeting in Saudi Arabia and Netanyahu’s statements all point to this conspiracy that unfortunately emerged in Friday’s cowardly terrorist act and the martyrdom of one of the country’s top executives,” Zarif wrote on Instagram.
A senior Iranian official has said that Tehran suspects a foreign-based opposition group of complicity with Israel in the killing of Fakhrizadeh, whom Western powers see as the architect of an abandoned Iranian nuclear weapons programme.
The group rejected the accusation. Netanyahu’s office has declined to comment on the killing.
Both Israel and Saudi Arabia have recently ramped up rhetoric against Iran, which is locked in several proxy wars with Riyadh in the region.
Saudi Arabia has not formally condemned the assassination, unlike the other five Gulf Cooperation Council member countries.
Asked in an interview with Russian broadcaster RT on Tuesday to comment on the killing, Riyadh’s United Nations envoy said the kingdom “did not support the policy of assassinations at all.”
(Reporting by Dubai newsroom and Nayera Abdallah in Cairo; writing by Raya Jalabi; Editing by Angus MacSwan)