Assassinated head of Iran’s nuclear program was a “menace” and the world should thank Israel, Israeli official says.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
An Israeli official said the world should be thankful that a nuclear menace has been eliminated, the New York Times reported Saturday.
The unnamed senior Israeli official was involved for several years in tracking Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was killed when his car was ambushed on Friday east of the Iranian capital of Tehran. Fakhrizadeh headed Iran’s clandestine nuclear program and his identity and whereabouts were kept top secret by the Iranian regime.
Fakhrizadeh oversaw Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and “posed such a menace that the world should thank Israel,” said the Israeli official quoted by the Times.
Iran is home to the world’s largest population of Shiite Muslims and has repeatedly threatened Israel and the Gulf Arab states, the latter of which is predominantly populated by Sunni Muslims. The two branches of Islam are ideologically opposed to each other and Iran’s nuclear program has proven to be a unifying point between Israel and the Arab states that border Iran across the Persian Gulf.
The Times report noted that Iran has suffered an unprecedented number of setbacks this year from covert attacks. These incidents included an American strike in January killing top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, a series of mysterious explosions at top secret Iranian bases in the summer, cyber attacks linked to Israel, and an alleged Israeli hit assassinating a senior al-Qaeda terror leader who was living in Tehran.
Israel’s apparent ability to repeatedly carry out strikes inside of Iran has the Islamic Republic rattled.
“It’s unprecedented,” Bruce Reidel, a researcher at the Brookings Institution and a former CIA official, told the Times. “And it shows no sign of being effectively countered by the Iranians.”
Iran’s leadership now has to choose between retaliating immediately, or waiting for the new administration once President Donald Trump leaves office on January 20.
“The operations are confronting Tehran with an agonizing choice between embracing the demands of hard-liners for swift retaliation, or attempting to make a fresh start with the less implacably hostile administration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden,” the Times added.