Ns News Online Desk: Unknown to most Iranians until Friday, when he was assassinated, the nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was well known to those who followed Iran’s nuclear programme. Western security sources regarded him as instrumental.
Iranian media downplayed Fakhrizadeh’s importance, introducing him as a scientist and researcher involved in the search for “homegrown test kits for Covid-19” in recent weeks.
Mark Fitzpatrick, an associate fellow with London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) who follows Iran’s nuclear program me closely, also tweeted: “Iran’s nuclear program is long past the point when it is dependent on a single individual”.
Yet we know that when he was attacked Fakhrizadeh was accompanied by several bodyguards, indicating how seriously Iran took his security.
So, the motive for the assassination – for which no one has claimed responsibility – would appear to have been political, rather than relating to Iran’s nuclear activities.
Prominent Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in an undated photo.Two possible motives stand out: firstly, to jeopardize potential improvements in relations between Iran and the new Biden administration in the United States. And, secondly, to encourage Iran to engage in a retaliatory act.
“The enemies are experiencing stressful weeks,” said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in his first remarks on the assassination. “They are mindful that the global situation is changing, and are trying to make the most of these days to create unstable conditions in the region,” he added.
When Mr Rouhani refers to Iran’s “enemies”, he is evidently talking about the Trump administration, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Both Israel and Saudi Arabia are worried about the changing tide of politics in the Middle East and its consequences for them once President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
Mr Biden made it clear during his election campaign that he wished to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal, which was negotiated by his predecessor Barack Obama in 2015 and forsaken by Donald Trump in 2018.