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Iran claims slain nuclear scientist worked on virus detection kit, vaccine

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The top Iranian nuclear scientist assassinated near Tehran Friday was a key figure in the nation’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and was involved in the development of homegrown virus testing kits as well as a vaccine for COVID-19, Iranian officials claimed Saturday.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, accused by Israel and Western intelligence officials of leading Iran’s past — and potentially present — nuclear weapons development program, served as head of the Iranian defense ministry’s Organization for Defensive Innovation and Research

Iranian Defense officials told the IRNA and Tasnim news agencies that projects developed under the department included Iran’s “first indigenous COVID-19 test kit.”

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This kit, according to Tasnim, was of a standard similar to such kits used around the world and was deployed throughout the country’s hospitals. “Today this valuable product is also in the basket of our country’s export goods,” it said. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh sits in a meeting with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, Iran, January 23, 2019. (Office of the Iranian supreme leader via AP)

Fakhrizadeh’s work also included overseeing the development of a potential Iranian vaccine for the coronavirus, the agencies said.

It was not clear what Fakhrizadeh’s role in such projects would be, as a physicist.

Tasnim said the vaccine project had achieved “very good results” under Fakhrizadeh’s leadership and was currently in human trials.

Defense Minister Amir Hatami told IRNA Fakhrizadeh was also involved in the development of laser-based air defenses and........

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