Iran claims revenge after the assassination of the scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, considered the father of its nuclear program, and directly points to Israel as the perpetrator of the attack. Two years after Benjamin Netanyahu highlighted his first and last name in an appearance on the atomic program, Fakhrizadeh, 63, was killed in Absard, 60 kilometers from Tehran. “Remember that name,” were the words that the prime minister of Israel dedicated to him in that appearance in which he revealed that he was working on secret projects. General Mohamed Baqeri, chief of the Iranian General Staff, promised a “harsh revenge” against the perpetrators whom he defined as “blind mercenaries of the arrogance of the Zionist regime”, alluding to Israel. Baqeri said the attack was “a brutal act” that carries “heavy and tragic” consequences for the country’s defense system.
According to official media, a van exploded when Fakhrizadeh’s vehicle was passing to block the road and later several unknown persons opened fire on him and his bodyguards. The scientist was urgently evacuated to a hospital, but after a few minutes the Defense Ministry confirmed his “martyrdom” due to the serious injuries sustained. In the attack and subsequent shooting, “several people” died, the Tasnim agency noted, but their identities were not disclosed.
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an officer in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, was teaching at Imam Hussein University in Tehran.
- He was 63 years old.
Married with three children, he was an executive scientist at the Ministry of Defense and Logistics of the Armed Forces.
His figure was as relevant within the nuclear program as it was opaque in the face of the media. US intelligence considered him “the mastermind of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, which was dismantled before 2000,” reported The New York Times. That program is called Amal (which means ‘hope’) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that the Iranians suspended it in 2000.
The accounts linked to the Revolutionary Guard on social networks pointed to the Mossad as responsible for this operation that “represents a great psychological and professional blow to Iran,” in the opinion of the security analyst and regular contributor to the Israeli daily Haaretz, Yossi Melman, who He recalled in a tweet that he was a person whom the Israeli intelligence services had followed “for years.” Donald Trump retweeted Melman. From Netanyahu’s office, they indicated that they did not intend to comment on what happened in Tehran.
A problem for Biden
Foreign Minister Javad Zarif condemned the assassination and made “an appeal to the international community, especially the European Union (EU), to end the double standard when condemning this type of acts of state terrorism.” . For the head of Defense, General Amir Hatami, this operation against Fakhrizadeh “shows the depth of hearing of the enemies towards the Islamic republic.”
This assassination coincides with the anniversary of the assassination of another top Iranian scientist like Majid Shahriari in 2010, so Tehran also blamed the Israelis. The attack comes at a particularly sensitive moment from the political and diplomatic point of view. There are less than two months until the relief in the White House and in recent weeks the news has followed one another about a possible attack by Trump against Iran before leaving his post.
The newspaper ‘The New York Times’ published ten days ago that the president asked for options to attack the Natanz nuclear plant, but that he finally ruled out the possibility. Analysts such as the Iranian American writer Trita Parsi, author of books such as ‘Losing an Enemy’, stressed that “the objective of this type of assassination is not to slow down the nuclear program, but to hinder the diplomatic work that Joe Biden has ahead of him.”
The future president was Barack Obama’s number two when the nuclear deal with Iran was signed in 2015. Trump unilaterally withdrew from this pact by which the Iranians pledged to limit uranium enrichment and again imposed sanctions on the republic Islamic. Biden’s plan involves restoring diplomatic channels with Iran, but Netanyahu has already asked him publicly not to return to the 2015 agreement. Saudi Arabia, Trump’s other great regional ally, also does not welcome the lifting of the punishments to Tehran. The next two months are very long in the Middle East.
A target in the sights of Tel Aviv
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh is the latest name in a long list of murdered scientists. On November 29, 2010, Majid Shariari, a professor at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran and a member of the Nuclear Society of Iran, lost his life and his wife was injured in an explosion that occurred a few meters from their home in Tehran. That same day, a short distance away, his colleague Fereydoon Abbasi, a laser physicist at the same university, and his wife were injured after a similar attack.
Shariari was the third scientist killed in just three years, after Masoud Ali Mohamadi and Ardeshir Hosseinpour. In 2012, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a young nuclear scientist, was shot dead while leaving his home in the capital. In all cases, the Israeli authorities targeted the Israeli intelligence services directly.
To the murders of scientists must be added different kidnappings and explosions such as those that occurred in recent months. In July, a Middle East intelligence source consulted by The New York Times confirmed an attack on the Natanz nuclear plant following the placement by Israel of “a powerful bomb.” The Jewish State, as it usually does in these cases, neither confirmed nor denied its involvement, but Gabi Ashkenazi, Foreign Minister, declared that “Iran cannot be allowed to equip itself with nuclear capacity” and therefore “we carry out actions of those that it is better not to speak ». The Iranian nuclear program is in the crosshairs of the United States and Israel, who distrust its intentions and think it wants to equip itself with an atomic weapon.