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Friday, 27 November 2020

Tensions tighten! Head of Iranian Research and Innovation Organization of the Ministry of Defense Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated by terrorists in a terrorist attack near Tehran today days after the US deployed several nuclear-capable heavy bombers to the Middle East in an apparent threat to Iran

Head of Research and Innovation Organization of the Ministry of Defense Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Credit IRNA

The United States earlier this week deployed several nuclear-capable heavy bombers to the Middle East in an apparent threat to Iran, amid swirling speculation that US President Donald Trump plans to take military action against Tehran before leaving office in January 2021.

Tehran, Nov 27, IRNA – Head of Research and Innovation Organization of the Ministry of Defense Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated by terrorists in a terrorist attack near Tehran on Friday. During the conflict, the security team protecting Iranian scientists were also injured and transferred to hospital. Iranian Defense Ministry in a statement condoled with Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and the Iranian nation over the unfair assassination of a committed manager and an expert.

According to the BBC, Iran's most senior nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh has been assassinated near the capital Tehran, the country's defence ministry has confirmed. Fakhrizadeh died in hospital after an attack in Absard, in Damavand county. Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has condemned the killing "as an act of state terror". Western intelligence agencies view Fakhrizadeh as being behind Iran's secret nuclear weapons programme. He was reportedly described as the "father of the Iranian bomb" by diplomats.

News of the killing comes amid fresh concern about the increased amount of enriched uranium that Iran is producing. Enriched uranium is a vital component for both civil nuclear power generation and military nuclear weapons. Iran insists its nuclear programme is exclusively for peaceful purposes. Between 2010 and 2012, four Iranian nuclear scientists were assassinated and Iran has accused Israel of complicity in the killings. Fakhrizadeh's name was specifically mentioned in Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu's presentation about Iran's nuclear programme in May 2018. In 2015, the New York Times compared him to J. Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist who directed the Manhattan Project that during World War Two produced the first atomic weapons. There has been no comment from Israel on the news of the assassination.


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Last Chance

Israel and Saudi Arabia see the next two months as the last chance they will have to knock out Iran's nuclear capability and its plans to be the dominant power in the Middle East.

The United States earlier this week deployed several nuclear-capable heavy bombers to the Middle East in an apparent threat to Iran, amid swirling speculation that US President Donald Trump plans to take military action against Tehran before leaving office in January 2021. The bombers were seen flying in Israel airspace. Yesterday, The Times of Israel reported, Israel Defence Force, IDF was preparing in case Trump launches parting strike on Iran Israeli officials believe final weeks of Trump administration will be ‘very sensitive’ for the region, though there is no specific intel on looming US attack on nuclear facilities.

A report Wednesday claimed that the Israeli army has been preparing for the possibility that US President Donald Trump will order a strike on Iran before leaving office in January. However, the Israelis are said to be worried the Israel Defense Forces would not have enough time to prepare for possible retaliation targeting Israel, including Iran’s proxies in Lebanon and Syria.

Israel will not allow Iran to have nuclear weapons.

“Until now, Israel did not have to lead the fight against Iran because the leader of the free world did that,” Likud minister Tzachi Hanegbi said on Wednesday morning, in an interview with Army Radio. “If the US goes back to the nuclear deal, Israel will be left to make decisions alone. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in an apparent message to Biden and his team, warned on Sunday against re-engaging with Iran on the 2015 nuclear deal. “We will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said at an annual memorial event for Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion.

Saudi's onboard

According to Axios, Israeli minister of defence Benny Gantz spoke twice in the last two weeks with Christopher Miller, Trump's acting defence secretary. They discussed Iran as well as Syria and defence cooperation. Last Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Saudi Arabia with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. One of the main issues discussed was Iran, Israeli officials say. Pompeo visited Israel and several Gulf countries last week to discuss Iran. State Department officials travelling with Pompeo told reporters “all options are on the table." While Pompeo was in the Gulf, U.S. Central Command announced that B-52 strategic bombers conducted a “short-notice, long-range mission into the Middle East to deter aggression and reassure U.S. partners and allies."

That was seen as another signal to Iran. Hossein Dehghan, an adviser to Iran’s leader and a possible candidate in Iran's upcoming presidential elections, told AP last week that a U.S. military strike against Iran could set off a “full-fledged war” in the Middle East. Russia Today reported, just days after Israel’s Channel 13 similarly stated that both Washington and Tel Aviv plan to step up “covert operations” against Tehran in the final days of Trump’s term, though the broadcaster offered no details on what shape that could take. The New York Times, meanwhile, reported earlier this month that Trump had recently “sought options” for a strike on Iran’s nuclear capabilities – which it said would “almost certainly be focused on Natanz,” the country’s primary uranium enrichment site. But the president was reportedly “dissuaded” from an attack by advisers, who warned it might kick off a bloody regional conflict. It is unclear if they have returned to the idea since. Nonetheless, Iranian officials reacted to the Times report vowing a “crushing response” to any US strike.

Washington and Tel Aviv plan to step up “covert operations” against Tehran in the final days of Trump’s term

Though Trump has so far managed to avoid an outright war with Iran, open fighting may have only been narrowly averted after the January assassination of Qassem Soleimani, a beloved Iranian general who led the country’s elite Quds Force. Iran responded to the kill strike with a barrage of rockets on Iraqi bases housing US troops – though besides humiliation no serious injuries were inflicted in the reprisal since Tehran apparently passed an advance warning to Baghdad, giving Americans enough time to seek shelter.

Iran has been under attack all year long

A chlorine gas leak at a petrochemical centre in southeast Iran sickened 70 workers, state-run IRNA news agency reported in July. Most of the workers at the Karun petrochemical centre in the city of Mahshahr in southeast Khuzestan province were released after undergoing medical treatment. In the city of Ahvaz, also in Khuzestan, a fire at the Zergan power plant was ignited when a transformer exploded. The blaze was contained by firefighters after two hours of battling the blaze. Mohammad Hafezi, the power plant's health and safety manager, told IRNA the cause of the fire was under investigation.

The two incidents in Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan come after a fire and explosion at a centrifuge production plant above Iran's underground Natanz nuclear enrichment facility earlier in the year. Officials said the cause of that fire at Natanz was known to officials, but the information wasn't released for "security reasons." An explosion from a gas leak in a medical clinic in northern Tehran killed 19 people.

Sabotage or bad luck? 

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