Iranian state media reported that the country’s top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated in Damavand, east of Tehran. He was reportedly accompanied by his bodyguard when they were attacked by a “suicide” attacker at the entrance of Absard town.
According to Iran Front Page News, Fakhrizadeh was killed by shooting, but before the shootout, his car has been stopped with an explosion at Mostafa Khomeini Blvd. Several others are also reportedly killed in the incident, but haven’t been identified yet.
Fakhrizadeh was a brigadier general in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) and headed Iran’s nuclear weapons project.
He was a professor of physics at the Imam Hussein University in Tehran and was former head of Iran’s Physics Research Center.
While there has been no official confirmation of the death yet, and Iran Atomic Energy organization has denied the reports, saying that no incident involving nuclear scientists took place according to ISNA News Agency, Iran’s revolutionary guards commander wrote on Twitter that Iran will avenge the killing of scientists as it has in the past according to the Jerusalem Post.
No one has yet claimed responsibility for the assassination, but the Israeli regime has a history of hiring hit men to assassinate nuclear scientists in Iran.
In 2018, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “remember that name” after he announced that the Mossad had obtained 100,000 files from Iran’s secret nuclear archives. The files retrieved by Mossad focused on the secret Iranian nuclear program that was developed from 1999 to 2003 called Project Amad, which was led by Fakhrizadeh. When Iran entered the 2015 nuclear deal, it denied that such a program existed.
After the April 2018 killing of several nuclear scientists in Iran, a “protective shield of secrecy and security” had been thrown around Fakhrizadeh, in an effort to protect him against Israeli assassins.
In 2003, Iran was forced to shelve Project Amad, but not its nuclear ambitions. It reportedly split its program into an overt program and a covert one that continued the nuclear work under the title of scientific knowhow development, Netanyahu said at the time. It continued this work in a series of organizations, which in 2018 were led by SPND, an organization inside Iran’s Defense Ministry led by the same person who led Project Amad – Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Netanyahu said.
According to the WSJ, Fakhrizadeh is often described as Iran’s Robert Oppenheimer, the developer of the world’s first atomic bombs, and not because of the Iranian’s latent pacifist convictions. His name came to light about a decade ago as the elusive head of Iran’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, widely believed to be the group conducting Iran’s nuclear-weaponization work. In 2012 the Journal’s Jay Solomon reported that, after lying low for a few years, Fakhrizadeh had “opened a research facility in Tehran’s northern suburbs involved in studies relevant to developing nuclear weapons.”