Archive for November 27, 2020

Top Iranian officials blame Israel for nuclear mastermind’s killing, vow revenge

November 27, 2020
This photo released by the semi-official Fars News Agency shows the scene where Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed in Absard, a small city just east of the capital, Tehran, Iran, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. Parts of image blurred for potentially disturbing imagery (Fars News Agency via AP)


Zarif blasts ‘terrorist cowardice’ in Mohsen Fakhrizadeh’s killing; army chief, senior adviser to Khamenei promise retaliation: ‘We will make them regret their actions!’

By TOI STAFF and AGENCIESToday, 6:59 pm  1This photo released by the semi-official Fars News Agency shows the scene where Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed in Absard, a small city just east of the capital, Tehran, Iran, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. Parts of image blurred for potentially disturbing imagery (Fars News Agency via AP)

Top Iranian officials on Friday pointed to Israel as the likely culprit in the assassination of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, with some vowing revenge for the death of the man Jerusalem has pointed to as the head of the country’s nuclear weapons program.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif claimed there were “serious indications of [an] Israeli role” in the assassination.

“Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today. This cowardice — with serious indications of Israeli role — shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators,” Zarif wrote on Twitter.

He also called on the international community to “end their shameful double standards and condemn this act of state terror.”

Hossein Dehghan, an adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and a presidential candidate in Iran’s 2021 election, issued a warning on Twitter.

“In the last days of their gambling ally’s political life, the Zionists seek to intensify and increase pressure on Iran to wage a full-blown war,” Dehghan wrote, appearing to refer to US President Donald Trump. “We will descend like lightning on the killers of this oppressed martyr and we will make them regret their actions!”

Iran’s military chief Mohammad Bagheri accused “the malicious Zionist entity of committing a brutal act.” He said Fakhrizadeh’s death was “a “major blow to the Iranian defense system.”Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in an undated photo (Courtesy)

But Bagheri promised that “the path started by the likes of Fakhrizadeh will not stop” and said that “terrorist groups, commanders and elements involved in this cowardly act [should know] a difficult retaliation awaits them.”

Hossein Salami, chief commander of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guards, tweeted: “Assassinating nuclear scientists is the most violent confrontation to prevent us from reaching modern science.”

Yadollah Javani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards’ political bureau, said that “the Zionists are behind many of these assassinations.”

Claiming Iran was “one of the main victims of terrorism” in the world, Javani lamented that “the United States and European countries also support the Zionist regime… Countries that ostensibly claim to fight terrorists but in practice support terrorists.”

Israel declined to immediately comment on the killing of Fakhrizadeh, who Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once called out in a news conference saying: “Remember that name.” Israel has long been suspected of carrying out a series of targeted killings of Iranian nuclear scientists nearly a decade ago.In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani, right, listens to Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri during the army parade commemorating National Army Day in front of the shrine of the late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, just outside Tehran, Iran on April 18, 2019. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

State TV said Fakhrizadeh was attacked by “armed terrorist elements.” He died at a local hospital after doctors and parademics couldn’t revive him.

The semiofficial Fars news agency, believed to be close to the country’s Revolutionary Guard, said the attack happened in Absard, a small city just east of the capital, Tehran. It said witnesses heard the sound of an explosion and then machine gunfire. The attack targeted a car that Fakhrizadeh was in, the agency said.

Others wounded, including Fakhrizadeh’s bodyguards, also were taken to a local hospital, the agency said.

The killing comes just days before the 10-year anniversary of the killing of Iranian nuclear scientist Majid Shahriari, which Tehran also blamed on Israel. Those targeted killings came alongside the so-called Stuxnet virus, believed to be an Israeli and American creation, that destroyed Iranian centrifuges.This photo released by the semi-official Fars News Agency shows the scene where Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed in Absard, a small city just east of the capital, Tehran, Iran, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020 (Fars News Agency via AP)

Fakhrizadeh led Iran’s so-called “Amad,” or “Hope” program. Israel and the West have alleged it was a military operation looking at the feasibility of building a nuclear weapon in Iran. Tehran long has maintained its nuclear program is peaceful.

The International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran “carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device” in a “structured program” through the end of 2003. That was the Amad program, which included work on the carefully timed high explosives needed to detonate a nuclear bomb.

Iran also “conducted computer modeling of a nuclear explosive device” before 2005 and between 2005 and 2009, the IAEA has said. The agency said, however, that those calculations were “incomplete and fragmented.”

Netanyahu asserted in 2018 that Fakhrizadeh continued to lead Iran’s nuclear weapons efforts, despite the 2015 nuclear deal meant to prevent Tehran from constructing such weapons.

Gen. Hossein Dehghan, a military adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Tehran, Iran, November 18, 2020. (Vahid Salemi/AP)

Fakhrizadeh’s assassination comes less than two months before Joe Biden is to take office as US president.

Biden has promised a return to diplomacy with Iran after four hawkish years under incumbent US President Donald Trump, who withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and began reimposing crippling sanctions.

Trump said at the time that the deal did not offer sufficient guarantees to stop Tehran from acquiring an atomic bomb.

Father of Iran’s nuclear and missile programs assassinated near Tehran – DEBKAfile

November 27, 2020


 
assassinationBinyamin NetanyahuIran nuclearMohsen Fakhrizadeh

The reclusive Dr. Mohsen Fakriazadeh, reputed father of Iran’s nuclear weapons and missile programs, was assassinated near Tehran on Friday, Nov. 27. He was attacked by unknown killers in Damavand, Tehran Province, during an armed conflict with his bodyguards. This was confirmed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards of which the scientist was also a brigadier general.

Shariar Heydari, Dep Chairman of Iran’s parliamentary National Security Commission told reporters that the Iranian scientist was martyred when “a car exploded in front of his vehicle followed by gunfire by the terrorists” killing the scientist and one of his bodyguards.

The physicist who operated in the shadows was first prominently named by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in April 2018, during his televised revelation that the Mossad had removed Iran’s vast nuclear archive from a secret warehouse in Tehran. He presented a photograph, saying “Remember that name, Fakhrizadeh.”

After Iran’s physics Research Center (PHRC) was exposed as a military organization, the center changed its name to the Institute of Applied Physics under the codename of AMAD.  Fakhriazadeh took over as head of research and continued the secret nuclear weapons program after Iran signed its 2015 nuclear accord with six world nations. This too was disclosed in the Netanyahu presentation.
In an effort to protect this key director of nuclear weapons development against assassination, photographs of the nuclear scientist were rare and he was surrounded by a protective shield of security. the Iranian authorities also denied numerous requests from the Atomic Energy Agency to interview him. He is the last in a succession of Iranian nuclear scientists who were assassinated over the years.

DEBKAfile adds: No party has claimed responsibility for the removal of the keystone of Iran’s drive for a nuclear bomb, and this assassination may never be officially acknowledged, any more than its precedents.

Incumbent US President Donald Trump has pledged that Iran will never be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon, as has Israel. The timing of the operation between American presidents is, however, highly suggestive. Joe Biden is believed to be planning to restore the US to the nuclear accord after Trump’s withdrawal and possibly treat the Islamic Republic with greater lenience.
Another question is if and how Iran will react to this body blow to its nuclear aspirations, which may be compared in gravity to the killing of the Islamic Republic’s master military strategist, Qassem Soleimani in Jan. 2019 by an American drone.

Alleged head of Iran’s nuclear weapons program is assassinated near Tehran

November 27, 2020
Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in an undated photo (Courtesy)


Mohsen Fakhrizadeh’s car bombed and shot at; blaming ‘Zionists,’ adviser to Khamenei vows to ‘descend like lightning on killers’; scientist has been called ‘father of Iranian bomb’

By TOI STAFF and AGENCIESToday, 4:00 pm  7Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in an undated photo (Courtesy)

The alleged head of Iran’s nuclear weapons program was assassinated Friday near the capital Tehran, Iran’s defense ministry said.

The ministry confirmed the death of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a professor of physics and an officer in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, after it was widely reported in Iranian media.

“This Friday afternoon, armed terrorist elements attacked a car carrying Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, head of the Ministry of Defense’s Research and Innovation Organization,” it said. “During the clash between his security team and the terrorists, Mr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was seriously injured and taken to hospital.

“Unfortunately, the medical team did not succeed in reviving him, and a few minutes ago, this manager and scientist, after years of effort and struggle, achieved a high degree of martyrdom.

There was no comment on whether the attackers had escaped.

The attack happened in Absard, a small city just east of the capital, Tehran. Iran’s Fars and the Tasnim news agencies, both close to security sources, said it involved “terrorists bombing a car before shooting at Mr. Fakhrizadeh’s car.”

Those wounded, including Fakhrizadeh’s bodyguards, were later taken to a local hospital, Fars said.

State television on its website later published a photograph of security forces blocking off the road. Photos and video shared online showed a Nissan sedan with bullet holes through the windshield and blood pooled on the road.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1332334392673333248&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.timesofisrael.com%2Fhead-of-irans-nuclear-weapons-program-said-assassinated-near-tehran%2F&siteScreenName=timesofisrael&theme=light&widgetsVersion=ed20a2b%3A1601588405575&width=550px

Hossein Salami, chief commander of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guards, appeared to acknowledge the attack on Fakhrizadeh.

“Assassinating nuclear scientists is the most violent confrontation to prevent us from reaching modern science,” Salami tweeted.

Hossein Dehghan, an adviser to Iran’s supreme leader and a presidential candidate in Iran’s 2021 election, issued a warning on Twitter.

“In the last days of their gambling ally’s political life, the Zionists seek to intensify and increase pressure on Iran to wage a full-blown war,” Dehghan wrote, appearing to refer to US President Donald Trump. “We will descend like lightning on the killers of this oppressed martyr and we will make them regret their actions!”Gen. Hossein Dehghan, a military adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Tehran, Iran, November 18, 2020. (Vahid Salemi/AP)

The area around Absard is filled with vacation villas for the Iranian elite with a view of Mount Damavand, the highest peak in the country. Roads on Friday, part of the Iranian weekend, were emptier than normal due to a lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic, offering his attackers a chance to strike with fewer people around.

Fakhrizadeh was named by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2018 as the director of Iran’s nuclear weapons project.

When Netanyahu revealed then that Israel had removed from a warehouse in Tehran a vast archive of Iran’s own material detailing with its nuclear weapons program, he said: “Remember that name, Fakhrizadeh.”

Israel has long been suspected of carrying out a series of targeted killings of Iranian nuclear scientists nearly a decade ago, in a bid to curtail Iran’s nuclear program. It made no comment on the matter Friday.

In a video uploaded to Twitter Friday shortly after news of the alleged killing emerged, Netanyahu, counting off various achievements of the week, noted that this was “a partial list, as I can’t tell you everything.”

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. However, Iranian media all noted the interest that Netanyahu had previously shown in Fakhrizadeh.

Fakhrizadeh led Iran’s so-called “Amad,” or “Hope” program. Israel and the West have alleged it was a military operation looking at the feasibility of building a nuclear weapon in Iran. Tehran long has maintained its nuclear program is peaceful.

The International Atomic Energy Agency says that the “Amad” program ended in the early 2000s. Its inspectors now monitor Iranian nuclear sites.

But Netanyahu said in his 2018 comments that Fakhrizadeh was continuing to lead such efforts secretly under SPND, “an organization inside Iran’s Defense Ministry.”Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands in front of a picture of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who he named as the head of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, April 30, 2018 (YouTube screenshot)

An Israeli TV report in May 2018 claimed Israel may have decided not to assassinate Fakhrizadeh in the past because it preferred to keep him alive and watch what he was up to.

“If Iran ever chose to weaponize [enrichment], Fakhrizadeh would be known as the father of the Iranian bomb,” a Western diplomat told the Reuters news agency four years ago. He has often been compared with Robert Oppenheimer, the director of the American nuclear development program in the 1940s.

A report on Axios Wednesday claimed that the Israeli army has been preparing for the possibility that US President Donald Trump will order a strike on Iran before leaving office in January.

Citing senior Israeli officials, Axios said there was no specific information that such an attack is imminent, but Israeli leaders believe the US president’s final weeks in the job will be “a very sensitive period.”

The officials said Washington would likely update Israel before carrying out military action against the Islamic Republic.

In January the US assassinated Qassem Soleimani, the powerful head of Iran’s Quds Force, in an airstrike at Baghdad International Airport, nearly sparking a larger conflict between the countries.In this Sept. 18, 2016 file photo released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, center, attends a meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Revolutionary Guard commanders in Tehran, Iran. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

Intelligence expert Ronen Bergman told Israel’s Channel 10 news in 2019 that given that many of Fakhrizadeh’s close aides had been killed over the years in assassinations linked to the Mossad, it was “reasonable to assume” that he would also have been “picked out” for assassination by the Mossad over the years.

Since Fakhhrizadeh is still alive, said Bergman at the time, “one can say apparently there was an assassination plan.” And apparently it was rejected during the years when Ehud Olmert was prime minister, Bergman added, choosing his words carefully given the limitations of military censorship when it comes to matters of national security.

“Apparently, there were those who came to Olmert… and said, listen, there is a danger that the operation will fail; there is a danger that the forces on the ground will be discovered.”

Olmert evidently chose to heed those concerns and not approve such an operation, said Bergman, a well-connected journalist on Israeli intelligence and security who recently published a landmark book, “Rise and Kill First,” on “the secret history of Israel’s targeted assassinations.”

Olmert was prime minister until 2009, when Netanyahu succeeded him.

Israel has never acknowledged assassinating people involved in the Iranian nuclear program.