Mohsen Fachrisadeh was considered a key figure in Iranian military development. His murder hits the country hard. The act is one of a series of attacks and acts of sabotage. Tehran points to the arch enemy: Israel.
A high-ranking nuclear physicist and missile specialist was killed in an assassination attempt in Iran. The 63-year-old Mohsen Fachrisadeh was shot and seriously injured in his car on Friday, according to the government. Shortly afterwards he died in a hospital. The Iranian Defense Ministry spoke of a “martyr’s death” when the news was announced. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif reported “serious indications” of Israeli involvement. At first, however, it was not clear who was behind the attack.
According to media reports, Fachrisadeh was shot dead in Ab-Sard, a suburb east of the capital Tehran. Several attackers were also killed, according to local authorities. The Ministry of Defense later stated in an official statement on state television: “We hereby announce the martyrdom of Dr. Mohsen Fachrisadeh known. “
Target of Israeli intelligence services?
The nuclear physicist was a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and an expert in the manufacture of missiles. According to information from the Iranian news agency Fars Israeli intelligence services are said to have been trying to turn him off for years. Most recently, Fachrisadeh headed the Research and Technological Renewal Department in the Ministry of Defense.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu highlighted him in spring 2018 in connection with a presentation on the Iranian nuclear program. “Make a note of this name: Fachrisadeh,” said Netanyahu at the time. Iran’s Foreign Minister Sarid appealed on Twitter in particular to the European Union “to give up its shameful double standards and to condemn this act of state terror”.
Israel and Iran are archenemies. The collapse of Israel and the “liberation of Palestine” are part of the foreign policy doctrine of the Islamic Republic. The existence of the Jewish state is threatened by Shiite Iran and its nuclear program. Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently described Israel as a “tumor” that must be uprooted and removed by a jihad (holy war) by the Palestinians.
Under President Donald Trump, the US unilaterally terminated an international agreement designed to prevent Iran from building an atomic bomb in 2018 and imposed new sanctions on the government in Tehran. After a period of one year, during which Tehran unsuccessfully urged the other contracting parties to comply with the treaty, Iran had also gradually ignored almost all the provisions of the agreement. It is uncertain whether the USA could return to the nuclear deal under the newly elected President Joe Biden.
In the summer there was a mysterious series of fires and explosions in Iran. Among other things, it concerned a nuclear facility. The causes mostly remained unclear. This left room for speculation – also about Israel as a possible originator.
Biden wants to revitalize the nuclear deal
The US initially did not comment on the murder. However, President Trump forwarded a tweet from the Israeli journalist Yossi Melman about the death of Fachrisadeh via his Twitter account without comment. In it Melman wrote that Fachrisadeh was the head of the secret Iranian military program and had been wanted by the Israeli secret service Mossad for years. His death is a severe blow to Iran. Melman expressed “confused” about Trump’s retweet in another tweet.
Since the unilateral termination of the nuclear deal, Trump has been running a campaign of “maximum pressure” with tough sanctions to force Iran to negotiate a new agreement with more far-reaching conditions. The US punitive measures exacerbated the economic and financial crisis in Iran. However, Tehran has ramped up uranium enrichment. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran now has more than 2,400 kilograms. The agreement stipulated a maximum amount of around 200 kilograms.
Last week, the US media reported that high-ranking advisers had advised Trump against taking military action against an Iranian nuclear facility. The term of office of the elected president ends on January 20th. Successor Biden has promised to return to the agreement provided Iran also adheres to the upper limits.
Meanwhile, the spokesman for the Iranian nuclear organization AEOI caused confusion with his comment on the first death reports. “Our nuclear scientists are all healthy,” Behrus Kamalwandi told the news agency Isna. Allegedly, Fachrisadeh was no longer part of the AEOI, which would explain the denial.