Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the man considered to be the driving force behind the Iranian nuclear weapons programme, has been shot dead.

Iran's state television reported that the country's top nuclear scientist was shot near Absard city in Tehran province's eastern Damavand county. Fakhrizadeh succumbed to injuries in hospital.

Tehran has accused Israel and its espionage agency Mossad for his assassination. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Sharif took to Twitter to say: "Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today. This cowardice -- with serious indications of Israeli role -- shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators. Iran calls on int'l community -- and especially EU -- to end their shameful double standards & condemn this act of state terror."

Seeking to underscore that the Fakhrizadeh's assassination risked a new round of regional conflict, former CIA Director John O. Brennan said, "Iranian leaders would be wise to wait for the return of responsible American leadership on the global stage and 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."

"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."