The Washington Post said that Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was assassinated on Friday in Tehran, was able to balance his position in Iran’s nuclear program, with his public not being seen in the media.
The newspaper added that the Iranian media rarely recognized his duties officially, only describing him as a university professor.
Not long after the nuclear weapons program was formally abandoned, Western organizations described Fakhri Zadeh as the main figure in the effort.
With the arrival of several detailed reports about his death on Friday during an ambush in Tehran, Fakhrizadeh’s name has become more common and famous, but ambiguity still surrounds the future of Iran’s nuclear and the impact of Fakhrizadeh’s killing on Iran.
For his part, Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said that there is a high probability that Fakhri Zada knew more about the nuclear program than anyone else, and emphasized that losing his leadership, experience, and institutional memory was undoubtedly a blow to Iran.
Between Soleimani and Fakhri Zadeh of the most important?
Some analysts compared the importance of the killing of Fakhrizadeh on Iranian soil to the importance of the killing of the commander of the Quds Force in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Qassem Soleimani, who was in charge of leading Iran’s secret operations abroad and who was assassinated by a US air strike during his visit to Baghdad last January.
“They were equal in seniority and status in Iran, despite their different missions,” said Simon Henderson, a Middle East expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
On the other hand, experts in the field of nuclear proliferation believe that the death of Fakhri Zadeh, who has experience in his profession and worked in it for decades, will have a great impact on contemporary weapons programs.
Many participants in the program could design a warhead if needed, said Vipin Narang, associate professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He added, “These types of people are important, but in the end they are not irreplaceable,” noting that the killing of Soleimani did not put an end to Iran’s foreign operations.
The newspaper pointed out that the most harmful thing to Iran in the killing of Fakhrizadeh, is that one of Iran’s most protective nuclear scientists was killed on Iranian soil, and no country has claimed responsibility for the killing, despite Iran accusing Israel of killing a number of Iranian scientists in the past.
“The killing of Soleimani did not end Iran’s activities and regional ambitions, but it thwarted the Revolutionary Guard and Iran’s militias in the region, and his successor was not able to fill his place,” said Sadjadpour.
He added, “Fakhrizadeh’s death will have a similar effect.”
His nuclear career
According to the newspaper, Fakhrizadeh was 18 or 19 years old in 1979 when the Iranian revolution that overthrew Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi broke out.
After the revolution, he joined the IRGC, and thanks to his past achievements in physics research linked to the Iranian military, he was involved in drawing up plans and acquiring parts of the first uranium enrichment plant, according to United Nations officials.
Under pressure from Western countries, Iran’s secret nuclear weapons program was officially halted in 2003, and Fakhrizadeh was not investigated by IAEA investigators in the years that followed, and he was recognized as the program’s leader.
United Nations records showed that Fakhrizadeh was among eight Iranians who have been subject to international restrictions on travel and money under the terms of a resolution adopted by the United Nations in 2007 due to his alleged links to nuclear and ballistic research.
Its importance for the nuclear weapons program was confirmed in the thousands of documents Israeli officials obtained in 2018, while other documents and records depict Fakhri Zadeh as the project’s leader since 1998.
Netanyahu called Zadeh a “shadow man in Iran’s nuclear effort” during his presentation of the documents in 2018.
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<img width=”100%” height=”auto” class=”lazy img-article” data-image=”https://www.alroeya.com/uploads/images/2020/11/28/1001857.jpg” src=”https://www.alroeya.com/uploads/images/2020/11/28/1001857.jpg” alt=”Netanyahu described Zadeh as “the shadow man in Iran’s nuclear effort” – AFP” onerror=”this.src=”/>
After the nuclear weapons program stopped, Fakhrizadeh continued to oversee organizations that continued to employ many program scientists to conduct research on nuclear energy, according to US and Israeli analysts.
A June 2020 report by the US State Department stated that former workers in the nuclear weapons program continued their work on projects with dual-use weapons-related technical activities under the leadership of Fakhri Zadeh.
The US State Department commented on this that it indicates that Iran has kept this information at least in part to assist in any future work to develop nuclear weapons in the event that it decides to resume work.
Iranian Robert Oppenheimer
Fakhrizadeh’s death was widely covered in the Iranian media, while he was described as the head of the Research and Innovation Organization in the Iranian Ministry of Defense, and some other accounts said that he participated in the Iranian army’s confrontation with the Corona pandemic.
Holly Dagres of the Atlantic Council said Fakhrizadeh was for Iran an Iranian Robert Oppenheimer, referring to the scientist who developed the world’s first nuclear weapon for the United States.
However, Dagres indicated that Iran had never built a nuclear weapon, and doubted that Fakhrizadeh’s death would lead to permanent damage to its nuclear program on the grounds that Iran does not depend on one man.