A scientist who founded the Islamic Republic’s military nuclear program in the 2000s has died. A top Iranian security official is accusing Israel of killing the researcher by means of a remote-controlled device. Now people the world over want answers as to what exactly happened.
Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, made the charge about Israel at the funeral for Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Fakhrizadeh headed Iran’s AMAD program. Iran says AMAD exists only for the purpose of providing nuclear energy. Israel and some countries in the West claim AMAD was trying to build a nuclear weapon.
Over the last decade, Israel has been suspected of killing other Iranian nuclear scientists. Israeli officials have repeatedly declined to comment. They insist that Iran still plans to develop nuclear weapons. They also point to Iran’s missile program and their research into other technologies. Iran insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
Shamkhani’s remarks drastically change the story of Fakhrizadeh’s killing, which took place Friday. At first, authorities said a truck exploded and then gunmen opened fire. Iran state TV even interviewed a man the night of the attack who described seeing the gunmen.
But reports on Monday state that a weapon at the scene bore “the logo and specifications of the Israeli military industry.” Multiple news agencies claim the weapon was “controlled by satellite.” None of the outlets have offered evidence supporting their claims.
There are questions surrounding Fakhrizadeh’s death. Was the truck exploded to destroy a satellite-controlled machine gun inside the vehicle? Did someone on the ground set up the weapon?
Shamkhani blames an Iranian exile group called Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) for “having a role in this.” MEK may have assisted Israeli operations in Iran in the past.
At the funeral, Defense Minister General Amir Hatami said Fakhrizadeh’s killing would make Iranians “more united, more determined.”
Overnight, the United Arab Emirates issued a statement condemning “the heinous assassination.” The UAE warned the killing “could further fuel conflict in the region.”
Last year, the UAE found itself in the middle of a conflict between Iran and the United States. UAE officials are suspicious of Iran’s nuclear program but say they want to de-escalate the crisis. The UAE just started passenger air service to Israel, and Israelis are expected to vacation in the country over Hanukkah in the coming days.
Bahrain, an island kingdom off the coast of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf, also recently normalized relations with Israel. The country still condemned Fakhrizadeh’s killing, however.
Meanwhile, an Israeli Foreign Ministry official has alerted Israeli diplomatic groups around the globe. He urges them to maintain “the highest level of readiness and awareness of any irregular activity” around missions and Jewish community centers.
Iran’s Minister General Hatami vows to “continue [nuclear weapons research] with more speed and more power.” As for countries that didn’t openly denounce Fakhrizadeh’s killing, he warns: “This will catch up with you someday.”
From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. . . . for God made man in His own image. — Genesis 9:5-6
(Military personnel stand near the flag-draped coffin of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in Tehran, Iran, on Monday, November 30, 2020. Iranian Defense Ministry via AP)