The killing of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh on Friday came after two other security failures: the theft of the Iranian nuclear archive and a fire at a nuclear facility this year, which some Iranian officials said was the result of a sabotage cyber attack.
Since Fakhrizadeh is the fifth Iranian nuclear scientist to die in a targeting operation since 2010, security experts say that the enemies Iran They have discovered its weakness.
Former Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan told state television that Fakhrizadeh was killed due to “infiltrating Iran’s security system”.
The security force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps appoints special escorts and officers to protect senior military and civilian officials.
“It is clear that the killers acted based on detailed information about Fakhrizadeh’s movements,” an Iranian security official told Reuters after Fakhrizadeh was killed in an attack on his car on a highway near Tehran in broad daylight.
“This is clearly a security weakness, and there are many questions that need answers,” added the official, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.
He said, “We should know, are there spies among the security personnel and locate the leak, this is necessary for us.”
He accused the army and the rulers of Iran, IsraelBy killing Fakhrizadeh, who was identified by Israel as a key element in what it says is Iran’s endeavor to acquire nuclear weapons, despite Tehran’s denials of this.
Israel has not commented on the incident, but has admitted in the past to conducting covert operations against Iran’s nuclear program to collect information.
“There are conflicting stories about how Fakhrizadeh was assassinated, but there is certainly some measure of penetration, and this is what worries the Islamic Republic most,” said Kesra Arabi, an Iran analyst at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, a think tank.
Iran announced contradictory details about the killing of Fakhrizadeh. Shortly after the incident, eyewitnesses told state television that a truck had exploded before a group of armed men opened fire on Fakhrizadeh’s car.
“It was a very complex assassination operation carried out remotely with electronic devices,” without the participation of individuals on the ground, Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, told state television on Sunday.
Henry Rom, senior analyst at Eurasia Group, said: “We have no idea how true these reports about the use of a machine gun mounted on a satellite-controlled truck, but these accounts serve two primary goals for Tehran: trying to avoid embarrassment by portraying the assassination as extremely complex. And to show how quickly the mystery of the case is solved.
Iran’s inability to thwart such operations may encourage it to attempt other operations in the future.
Behnam Bin Taliblu, an analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a think tank, said Washington: “The existence of large holes in the Iranian nuclear shield certainly raises questions about the role that sabotage operations can or should have in any future anti-proliferation policy towards Tehran.”
And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced in 2018 that Israel had smuggled hundreds of kilograms of paper and digital files regarding Iran’s secret nuclear weapons program out of the Islamic Republic. Iran denied this, calling it a deception.
Fakhrizadeh’s death came months after an American air strike by a drone aircraft Iraq Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, was killed, and Tehran responded by firing missiles at US targets in Iraq.
In July, Iran executed a citizen convicted of spying for US and Israeli intelligence. The judiciary said that Mahmoud Mousavi Majd, who was arrested in 2018, had spied on Soleimani, but that this case had nothing to do with the killing of Soleimani on January 3.
“Overwhelming” response or not?
Iran said it would respond “overwhelming” to the killing of Fakhrizadeh.
Political analysts said any retaliatory measures could make it difficult for US President-elect Joe Biden, who takes office on January 20, to abandon the “maximum pressure” policy that President Donald Trump has adopted toward Iran.
Biden said, if Iran returns to abide by the nuclear agreement it signed in 2015 with world powers, which imposes restrictions on its nuclear program, then he will return to the agreement that Trump withdrew from in 2018 and re-impose sanctions that caused great damage to the Iranian economy.
“Iran will respond, but it will not be a crushing response that could spark an all-out war with Israel,” said an analyst in Tehran, who asked not to be named.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Iran would avenge Fakhrizadeh’s death “at the appropriate time,” but “will not fall into an Israeli trap” in the final weeks of Trump’s presidency.
“Given that Trump will remain in the White House for another two months, the escalation options available to Tehran will have to be limited,” Talblue said.
He added, “Despite the talk of a possible military retaliation targeting Israel directly, this would be a scenario with low probabilities and great impact.”
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