Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran’s top nuclear scientist, assassinated near Tehran – BBC News
Fakhrizadeh’s assassination shows Tehran’s inability to defend against external threats
Iranian supreme leader called for retaliation for murder of Mohsen Fahrizadeh
On Saturday, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader called for “strong punishment” for those responsible for the death of Mohsen Fahrizadeh.
Fahrizadeh’s death, the second assassination of a senior Iranian military leader this year, underscores Tehran’s failure to protect key officials from threats posed by opponents of the regime, some analysts say..
Israel, the prime suspect in the killing of several Iranian scientists involved in the country’s nuclear program that happened 10 years ago, has not yet commented on the murder of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh..
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Iranian authorities said Fakhrizadeh, 59, was killed in the city of Absard, about 90 kilometers east of Tehran, in an armed attack on his vehicle. So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the murder. Fahrizadeh headed the Defense Innovation and Research Organization of the Iranian Ministry of Defense (SPND). Previously, he headed a secret nuclear weapons program that Iran began to implement back in the late 1980s and allegedly abandoned it, according to the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, in 2003..
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani accuses Israel of Fakhrizadi’s murder.
“Once again, the sinister hands of Global Ambition and the Zionist mercenaries have been stained with the blood of the son of the Iranian people,” Rouhani said at a cabinet meeting broadcast on state television. Rouhani meant that the USA and Israel were behind the murder of the nuclear engineer..
Fakhrizadeh’s assassination came almost 11 months after Iranian chief military leader Qassem Soleimani was killed in an airstrike using an American drone. His murder took place in Baghdad on January 3. In Washington, the strike was called a defensive operation to protect American troops overseas from Soleimani, who led the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – the Quds Force. This paramilitary group is registered in the United States as a foreign terrorist organization..
In an interview with the Voice of America Persian Service, Professor Thomas Juno, a security expert in the Middle East, said that the killings of Fahrizadeh and Soleimani show serious disruptions to the security of influential figures by the Iranian leadership..
“You have to assume that both (those killed) were under the very strong protection of the Iranian regime,” Juno said..
He said the killings also highlight the relative strength of Iran’s adversaries..
“Whoever was responsible for the murder of Fahrizadeh showed a high level of skill, performing the operation in the suburbs of the capital during the day and on the street when he was allegedly under protection,” says Juno. “As for the murder of Suleimani, it was the result of The US has spent enormous amounts of … resources to spy on him and eavesdrop on his conversations, to know what he is up to. “.
The Iranian authorities almost immediately blamed Israel for the murder of Fakhrizada and threatened with harsh retaliation.
Israel, for the destruction of which Tehran has long advocated, refrained from comment. The Jewish state and its main ally, the United States, do not rule out the use of extreme measures in an attempt to prevent nuclear weapons from ending up in Tehran’s hands. From 2010 to 2012, four nuclear weapons experts were killed in Iran, making Fahrizadeh the fifth Iranian nuclear scientist killed in the past 10 years. Iran blamed Israel for all these killings, while Jerusalem did not confirm, but did not deny its involvement in these deaths.
Eric Brewer, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Voice of America that Iran has a long history of protecting the safety of its nuclear scientists..
He also noted Iran’s failure to stop an Israeli operation to steal nuclear archival material from an Iranian storage facility in early 2018. Iran challenged the authenticity of the stolen materials, but US intelligence officials checked the documents and found them to be genuine.
Israel says the materials received indicate that Fahrizadeh and the SPND have continued covert work on nuclear weapons in recent years..
“From an Iranian perspective, they should be concerned about the secrecy of their efforts and their ability to protect (the scientists) doing the work,” Brewer said..
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