Scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, appointed as the director of a secret Iranian nuclear program, was murdered on Friday in an attack that has not yet been claimed, but which promises to further worsen Iran’s relationship with the United States and Israel.
Iranian authorities confirmed the death of “martyr” Mohsen Fakhrizadeh and promised to retaliate against those responsible. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has pointed a finger at Israel, which remains silent, as has the Pentagon.
“The terrorists today murdered a prominent Iranian scientist. This cowardice – with serious indications of Israel’s involvement – shows the desperate warmongering of its authors “, accused Zarif on the social network Twitter, appealing to the international community,” and especially the European Union “, to” put an end to their shameful and ambivalent positions condemn this act of state terrorism ”.
According to Iranian authorities, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was murdered in an ambush in Absard, 70 kilometers from Tehran, when four people fired on the car he was following along with his bodyguard. The scientist was still transported to the hospital, but he could not resist the injuries, while the bodyguard was injured.
“Remember this name: Fakhrizadeh”
Fakhrizadeh was a professor of physics at a university in Tehran and was part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. For more than two decades, he wrote the The New York Times, was considered to be primarily responsible for Tehran’s attempt to develop a nuclear weapon, a project that the Islamic Republic partly abandoned in the early 2000s.
The association of Fakhrizadeh with an alleged Iranian nuclear program, however, continued, and the scientist was even subject to sanctions by the United States in 2008. In addition, according to the same American newspaper, he was appointed as one of the main targets of Mossad (Israeli secret services), which in the past has been linked to the murder of several Iranian scientists.
In 2018, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on television accused the Iranian Government of lying about its nuclear program, Fakhrizadeh was again referred to as the head of a secret program for the development of a nuclear weapon. “Remember this name: Fakhrizadeh,” Netanyahu said at the time, ensuring that he is in possession of documents that prove Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
The Israeli government, for now, remains silent, but in Iran there are few doubts that the Hebrew state is behind the murder, with important figures of the regime vowing revenge.
“In the last days of his main ally’s political life [Donald Trump], the Zionists [Israel] seek to intensify pressure on Iran and create total war, “accused Hossein Dehgan, military adviser to the ayatollah Ali Khamenei is appointed as a possible candidate for the 2021 presidential elections.
“We will lightly attack the murders of this oppressed martyr and make them regret their actions,” added Dehgan.
Problems with Joe Biden
Regardless of who was responsible for Mohsen Fakhrizadeh’s death, Iran’s relations with the United States and Israel are expected to further deteriorate when Donald Trump is less than two months away from leaving the White House.
In Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia, the country’s main rivals in the region, are expected to take advantage of the Trump Administration’s last few weeks to weaken the Islamic Republic, hampering Joe Biden’s claims to approach Tehran when he takes office.
The President-elect has already shown willingness to dialogue with the Iranian authorities, admitting the lifting of some sanctions and even the resumption of the nuclear agreement, signed in 2015 by the 5 + 1 group (USA, United Kingdom, France, China and Russia, plus Germany) and from which Donald Trump withdrew the United States three years later.
These claims, however, may run into increased tension between Washington and Tehran, at a time when a troubled transition of power is taking place in the United States, exacerbated by the Pentagon’s entrances and exits – Defense Secretary Mark Esper was fired two weeks – which adds to the uncertainty as to what Trump can still do in recent weeks in the presidency.
The outgoing President, as reported by the The New York Times, even admitted to a military attack against Iran after the presidential elections, but was deterred by his advisers, who warned of the possibility of a large-scale conflict, with unpredictable consequences.
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