In a tweet, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described the death of Dr Mohsen Fakhrizadeh last Friday, as a martyr who was killed by “brutal mercenaries” and that he sacrificed his life for a “divine reward.”
In response, international human rights lawyer and executive director of UN Watch, Hillel Neuer wrote, “Your regime was so busy beating up peaceful protesters, arresting women for not covering their hair with the compulsory hijab and jailing and torturing human rights activists and their lawyers, that you forgot to protect your own nuclear mastermind.”
The truth is that Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was very well protected by the Iranian regime, but he and his body guards were ambushed by a strike force that had spent a huge amount of time perfecting such a split second operation with precision timing and coordination.
Former CIA Director John Brennan condemned the “criminal and highly reckless act” and suggested, it risked “lethal retaliation and a new round of regional conflict.” Yet as CIA director, how many “criminal and highly reckless acts” did he authorize between the years 2013-2017 until Donald Trump fired him?
Brennan clearly turned this crucial international incident into a political jab at Trump, whom he believes knows who was behind the assassination. Brennan then called upon Iran to “resist the urge to respond” and wait for a “responsible American leadership” to return onto the global stage.
But who is Iran going to respond against? If you are thinking US bases in the Gulf, Israel and Saudi Arabia, then much of the world would probably support, at least initially, Israel and Saudi responding to such an attack by the Iranian regime.
The European Union condemned the killing in a bid to appease the Islamic Republic of Iran and leaped to eulogize the death of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Yet when thousands of peaceful Iranian protesters were brutally beaten and killed on the streets of Tehran, where was the EU?
Dr Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was NOT just a nuclear civilian scientist, despite much of the mainstream media suggesting as such. He was “the senior Iranian nuclear scientist,” Brigadier General in the Iranian forces and in charge of the nuclear weapons program.
This is extremely important to note because of complex international laws regarding armed conflict and human rights issues.
But still most people in Iran were unaware of who Fakhrizadeh was until quite recently. In fact it was Prime Minister Netanyahu that made him famous when he announced his name on Israeli TV in April 2018, several months after Israeli agents managed to break into an Iranian warehouse in a commercial district of Tehran.
They disabled alarms, broke through two doors, cut through dozens of giant safes and managed to get out of the city with a half-ton of secret materials. When time was up, they fled for the border, hauling some 50,000 pages and 163 compact discs of memos, videos and plans.
It became instantly clear to Iranian guards that someone had stolen much of the country’s nuclear archive, documenting years of work on atomic weapons, warhead designs and production plans.
In late April 2018, Netanyahu announced the results of the heist, after giving Trump a private briefing at the White House. It was another reason why Trump abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal a few days later, arguing that the documents proved Iranian deception and an intent to resume bomb production. This was the right move but it continues to strain relations between the United States and European allies.
These key documents confirmed what inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, in report after report, had suspected. Despite Iranian insistence that its nuclear program was for peaceful purposes, the country had worked in the past to systematically assemble everything it needed to produce atomic weapons.
“It’s quite good,” Robert Kelley, a nuclear engineer and former inspector for the agency, said in Vienna, after being shown some of the document theft. “The papers show these guys were working on nuclear bombs.”
But more than two years on, Iran continues to fly under the radar, violating the JCPOA agreement and the IAEA are very concerned. Yet the EU continues to ignore Iranian violations and are encouraging Joe Biden to re-join the Accords.
On this issue, Israel, Saudi, UAE, Bahrain, Omar, Qatar and others agree that Iran’s goal of acquiring nuclear bombs must be stopped at all costs. If not, it will set off a nuclear arms race across the Middle East within a very short time.
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was the man who was central to Iran’s strategic objective of attaining a nuclear bomb and is probably as much a loss to the regime as Imad Mughniyeh and Qassem Soleimani.
Mughniyeh was the founding member of Lebanon’s Islamic Jihad Organisation and number two in Hezbollah’s leadership who was assassinated by Israel in 2008.
Qassem Soleimani was the Iranian major general in the Islamic Guard Corps and commander of the Quds Force who was assassinated by the Americans in January 2020.
Several experts across the Middle East believe Fakhrizadeh was such a brilliant nuclear scientist, and perhaps just months away from a nuclear bomb, he may be irreplaceable.
But Iran have back-up plans and the geo-politics of the Middle East just became more intriguing.