On Nov 27, Iran’s top senior nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was cornered and assassinated in Absard, near the nation’s capital, Tehran. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has stated that the country will not “leave this criminal act unanswered,” and will respond “in due course.” The president has also publicly stated that he believes Israel is behind the attack. Iran has also made previous statements that Israel is behind the murder of four Iranian nuclear scientists that occurred between 2010 and 2012.
Israel and the United States have not made any official announcements regarding this yet. Although according to The New York Times, one American official and two intelligence officials confirmed that Israel was behind the attack. Last week, Israeli media had reported that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman had met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, although Saudi foreign ministers have denied this. There has been speculation that this meeting had to do with both countries’ relation to Iran and its affairs. According to Israel’s N12 news website, its embassies around the world have been put on high alert and this event will complicate negotiations with United States President-elect Joe Biden. Biden had pledged to open diplomatic negotiation with Iran, although Israel had opposed this decision.
Fakhrizadeh was the head of the ministry of defence’s research and innovation organisation, and according to the New York Times, U.S. Pentagon’s former Middle East policy chief, Michael P. Mulroy, stated in an email that, “He was their senior-most nuclear scientist and was believed to be responsible for Iran’s covert nuclear program. He was also a senior officer in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and that will magnify Iran’s desire to respond by force.”
There is growing concern of what this event could lead to for both U.S. and Iran negotiations and for the diplomatic relations Iran has. In 2015, six countries had placed a limit on the amount of enriched uranium, a key component for commercial nuclear power and military nuclear weapons, Iran could produce. However, since the U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018, Iran has been producing enriched uranium in continuously growing amounts. With the assassination of Fakhrizadeh and the past assassination of Iran’s Major General Qasem Soleimani from a U.S. strike, Biden’s future negotiations will be rocky and will depend on the U.S. official stance on the assassination if they chose to take one on it.
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