On Friday, November 27, in the village of Absard, east of Tehran, unknown assailants killed a nuclear physicist, brigadier general of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was considered a key figure in the Iranian nuclear program. His car was stopped by the blast of a truck filled with explosives. Then the scientist was killed with small arms. The guards were badly injured. Israeli and American intelligence agencies are suspected of the crime because the operation was well planned. Iranians call Fakhrizadeh a martyr.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani, as well as the high command of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the armed forces, the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah have promised to avenge the scientist's death. There is no evidence yet as to who exactly is behind the murder of Fakhrizadeh, but in any case, the incident is in the interests of several states and may entail various negative consequences for international security.
Fakhrizadeh was shot to deprive Iran of the owner of valuable information, the prospects for the development of the military-industrial complex. He was educated at Tehran and Isfahan Universities in the 1980s and was engaged in research on nuclear and cosmic radiation. He has been compared to the American scientist Robert Oppenheimer, who invented the atomic bomb. The scientist led the 1989-2003 Amad and Project 111 programs to investigate the possibility of Iran developing nuclear weapons, including a ballistic missile warhead.
He was under international sanctions from the UN Security Council. Before Iran began its nuclear program, Fakhrizadeh visited the DPRK, where he held consultations with the local nuclear specialists. In 2013, he attended the third nuclear test of a North Korean nuclear charge. He headed the "Center for Biological Research", "Defense Innovation and Research Organization" under the Iranian Ministry of Defense. The scientist oversaw the development of a vaccine against coronavirus.
According to the organization of Iranian political émigrés, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, associated with the left-wing radical opposition Organization of the Mujahideen of the Iranian People, since 2012, in the area of the cities of Sorkeh Hesari and Abad, there have been two facilities created for the production of nuclear weapons, which belong to a research organization in led by Fakhrizadeh. In response to US President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the nuclear deal and the imposition of sanctions against Iran in 2018, Iranian nuclear scientists increased the uranium enrichment rate from 3.67% to 4.5%, which contradicts the terms of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Action Plan. Today, the country has enough low-enriched uranium, which, when enriched up to 90%, can be used in the production of two atomic bombs.
Preventing a nuclear threat
Fakhrizadeh is not the only Iranian nuclear physicist who did not die a natural death. In 2010-2012, scientists Masud Alimohammadi, Majid Shahriari, Dariush Rezainjad, Mustafa Roshan were killed. The prospect of Iran developing nuclear weapons is regarded by the leadership of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other secular regimes in the Middle East as a threat to national security, and the US understands this will change the balance of power in the Middle East not in their favor. That is why the Iranian-sponsored Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah admits Israel and the United States are behind the murder of Fahrizadeh. There is certain logic in this - if you want to kill a snake, then you need to chop off its head.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not comment on Fahrizadeh's assassination, while Minister Tsakhi Hanegbi said he had no idea who was behind it. However, according to Yossi Melman, a journalist for the Israeli Haaretz, Mossad has long followed the nuclear scientist. According to The New York Times, citing American intelligence officials, Israel was involved in the murder. In April 2018, Netanyahu drew attention to the personality of Fahrizadeh during a presentation on the disclosure of an archive about the nuclear program in Tehran, and asked to remember the name of the physicist.
Former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said that Iran's nuclear program should be stopped by any means, preferably with the help of sanctions, but if necessary, the Israelis should be ready to defend themselves. Israeli intelligence services have extensive experience in conducting covert special operations, including the elimination of Nazis involved in the Holocaust and Egypt's missile program in the 60s, as well as 228 terrorists.
Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman also has experience in eliminating his opponents. In 2018, at his order, special agents killed opposition journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey. There are agreements between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan on the provision of nuclear technology, in exchange for gratuitous oil supplies if Iran creates an atomic bomb.
The White House and the CIA do not comment on the assassination of Fakhrizadeh. Although in January 2020, the commander of the Iranian special forces "Al-Quds" General Qassem Soleimani and the deputy head of the Iraqi People's Mobilization Forces Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were killed at the Baghdad airport as a result of a missile strike by the Americans. Since 2008, American attack drones have carried out more than 300 missile strikes, which have killed over 2,000 Islamic militants around the world. Former CIA chief John Brennan called the strike criminal and reckless. Sina Tussi, senior analyst at the National American-Iranian Council, believes the assassination is an act of desperation for Trump, since his sanctions policy did not force Iran's leadership to abandon both its nuclear and missile programs.
This version has a right to exist, given that the outgoing Trump administration is cracking down on America's internal enemies, who have been sentenced to death. In particular, on November 19, the maniac Cordia Hall was executed by lethal injection, who at the beginning of 90s kidnapped, raped, beaten with a shovel and buried alive a 16-year-old girl. Before the inauguration of Joe Biden, who opposes such punishment, it is planned to execute four more brutal murderers, sadists and maniacs, whose lawyers are seeking a mitigation of the sentence, trying to prove that some of their clients are mentally retarded.
If we draw an analogy with the Iranian nuclear engineer Fakhrizadeh, then the authorities of the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia decided to eliminate him in order to reduce Iran's ability to acquire a nuclear baton in the foreseeable future. The chief of staff of the Iranian army, Major General Mohammed Bagheri, called the assassination of the scientist a strong blow to the country's defense-industrial complex. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo could discuss the covert operation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Crown Prince Mohammed Salman during a visit to Israel and Saudi Arabia in mid-November, when it became known that Trump had lost the election, and there was no point to negotiate something new with foreign leaders.
Fahrizade was assassinated in the final days of Trump's rule as relations between the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia will change after Biden's inauguration on January 20, 2021. He does not approve of Israel's annexation of 30% of the West Bank, the ongoing military operation of Saudi Arabia in Yemen and the assassination of Khashoggi, and is going to negotiate with Iran on a new nuclear deal. The scientist was killed in case the planned US-Iranian talks on the nuclear program ended in failure, or if their results allowed Tehran to maintain the potential to restart the nuclear program. The 2015 nuclear deal did not include the dismantling of nuclear facilities, including the Fordow fuel enrichment plant, or a ban on the production and development of ballistic missiles that could act as carriers of nuclear warheads.
Fahrizadeh's assassination spoils the climate of US-Iranian talks on a new nuclear deal. Biden's team has no plans to lift sanctions against Iran until it can convince the Ayatollahs regime to take on more serious commitments that will rule out the possibility of a repeat of the current crisis. Biden's supporters believe that the Iranian leadership sees him as a "good policeman" and will finally be convinced of this after the assassination of Fakhrizadeh at the end of Trump's presidency. They are mistaken because American flags and portraits of Trump and Biden were burned in Tehran over the weekend without distinguishing between the two politicians.
Iranians even criticize Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif for making a nuclear deal with the Americans in 2015. Biden could have persuaded President Hassan Rouhani to new agreements and lifted sanctions before the presidential elections in Iran in June 2021, thereby increasing the chances of success for moderate reform candidates, but now the initiative is in the hands of conservatives who take a tough stance on the United States.
Conservative MP, nuclear physicist Fereydun Abbasi, who headed the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization and survived an assassination attempt in 2010, expressed a desire to run for president. Presidential candidate Hussein Degan, military adviser to Khamenei, who served as defense minister in Hassan Rouhani's team, believes that in the last days of Zionist’s ally in power, they decided to increase pressure on Iran and bring the matter to a full-scale war, but they will regret it...
Tehran's promise to avenge Fakhrizadeh's death could result in new provocations. Following the elimination of Qassem Soleimani, Shiite armed groups fired missiles at US military installations in Iraq and Syria. The conservative newspaper Kayhan, which editor-in-chief Hossein Shariatmadari was an assistant to Khamenei, is proposing to strike at the Israeli city of Haifa if it is proven that Israel is behind the murder of Fakhrizadeh. The Iranian leadership can spite the United States to deepen its nuclear program and expel IAEA observers from the country. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps may obstruct freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf.
Biden will face a challenge to gain collective pressure on Iran, as all parties to the deal, including France, Germany, Russia and China, were opposed to the U.S. re-imposing sanctions on Iran in 2018. The EU regarded the murder of a nuclear engineer as a crime. Konstantin Kosachev, head of the Russian Federation Council Committee on International Affairs, admits the likelihood of military action. The Turkish Foreign Ministry expressed condolences to Iran. The United States and Israel found themselves isolated in the situation with the murder of an Iranian scientist. Instead of the detente expected by Biden in relations between the United States and Iran, they will face a cold snap.