Israel tried to lure Iran into war with Fakhrizadeh's killing. So far it has failed

Israel tried to lure Iran into war with Fakhrizadeh’s killing. So far it has failed

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As time has elapsed since the killing of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh on 27 November, the chances for quick retaliation are fading away.

After the assassination, in an operation east of Tehran attributed to Israel’s Mossad, senior Iranian leaders have used harsh language to promise revenge, not only against Israel but also the United States and Israel’s new allies in the region, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Among those vowing retribution were President Hassan Rouhani and military confidants of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, including former Defence Minister Ahmad Wahidi.

But the inflammatory rhetoric subdsided. Gut feelings made room for cool-headed decisions. The first question to be asked is, why? Why did Israel decide to kill him?

Fakhrizadeh was a gifted nuclear physicist, who taught and researched at Imam Hossein University in his nation’s capital city. But he was also a brigadier-general in the Revolutionary Guard and deputy defence minister.

For years, Israeli, American, British and German intelligence services have said that his academic credentials were just a front for his real work as head of the secret military nuclear programme focusing on weaponisation – to produce nuclear bombs.

In documents from the Iranian nuclear archives stolen in 2018 by Mossad and partially published in the media, evidence was seen of Fakhrizadeh’s involvement with Iran’s development of weapons – including a recording of his voice, in which he talks about five bombs and the need for tests.

Because of these suspicious, the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency demanded to interview him twice, once a decade ago and again six years ago, but the request was rejected by the Iranian authorities.

It is not publicly known if Fakhrizadeh was working on weaponising Iran’s nuclear capabilities at the time of his death.

Western intelligence communities have tried to follow Fakhrizadeh, bug his phones and computers, and collect information about him.

Mossad went further and a few times even planned to kill him, but Fakhrizadeh was cautious, highly suspicious and evasive. He uncovered the plots against his life, went underground, and the security around him was doubled, around the clock.

In the end it was not sufficient. Eventually Mossad, using technological and digital surveillance, as well as agents on the ground, found soft spots in his security. On Sunday, Iran said that a satellite-controlled machine gun with “artificial intelligence” had been used to kill the scientist.

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