An intelligence source told Channel 12 News that the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was the “pinnacle” of Israel’s years-long campaign against the Iranian nuclear program.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Two days after Iran’s top nuclear physicist in charge of its secret nuclear weapons program was assassinated near Tehran, Western experts are saying that it was the biggest success yet in Israeli efforts to stop the mullahs from attaining the bomb.
While Jerusalem has not taken responsibility for the Friday killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran’s leaders have publicly blamed Israel and vowed revenge.
Channel 12 News cited an unnamed intelligence source who said that the assassination was the “pinnacle” of Israel’s years-long campaign against the Iranian nuclear program. Israeli political and military leaders have often called Iran’s race to the bomb the most serious strategic threat to the country’s existence.
In the past year alone, a series of mysterious explosions occurred at various nuclear facilities in Iran. These blasts damaged a missile complex, destroyed an advanced centrifuge production facility, and set off a huge fire at a power plant.
Four other Iranian nuclear scientists were killed by bombs or bullets between 2010 and 2012. Israel, together with the United States, is also widely considered to be responsible for the Stuxnet computer virus that downed Iranian supervisory control and data acquisition systems a decade ago in a move that reportedly caused great damage to the nuclear program.
Fakhrizadeh’s death “is a setback for the Iran’s nuclear program,” said Michael Mullroy, a senior Pentagon official. “He was their most senior nuclear scientist, and they believed he directed Iran’s clandestine nuclear program.”
Writing in Walla!, political pundit Barak Ravid compared Fakhrizadeh’s importance to that of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) head General Qassem Soleimani, who was responsible for Iran’s clandestine terrorist activities in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, among other countries in the region.
Soleimani was assassinated by an American missile in January outside the Baghdad airport, with many reports stating that Israel supplied valuable intelligence to enable the hit.
Fakhrizadeh’s greatest value, Ravid wrote, lay in “his personal administrative and organizational abilities in everything connected to Tehran’s nuclear program and his dominance within the Iranian security apparatus.”
The physicist was a brigadier general in the IRGC.
The nuclear weapons mastermind was involved in developing Iran’s nuclear weapons since the 1990s, according to Western intelligence experts. He was publicly outed in 2011 in an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report as a key figure in the Islamic Republic’s clandestine program. Although asked several times over the years, Tehran never allowed the IAEA to question him, denying his involvement in any of the country’s nuclear activities.
In 2018, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized his name when revealing the Mossad’s audacious heist of half a ton of documents from Tehran’s nuclear archives.
The assassination has both angered and embarrassed Iran, occurring during the light of day near its capital.
Whether the incident represents a short-term or long-term setback in the Iranian leaders’ drive to develop a home-grown nuclear bomb remains to be seen.