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The Murder of Dr. Fakhrizadeh
By:Scott Ritter, Tel Aviv
Date: Saturday, 28 November 2020, 10:49 pm

Israel’s gift to Joe Biden, 52 days before he even takes office: war with Iran.

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer and author of 'SCORPION KING: America's Suicidal Embrace of Nuclear Weapons from FDR to Trump.' He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector. Follow him on Twitter @RealScottRitter
28 Nov, 2020 18:23
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Israel’s gift to Joe Biden, 52 days before he even takes office: war with Iran.
Protesters burn US and Israel flags during a demonstration against the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh © WANA (West Asia News Agency) / Majid Asgaripour via Reuters

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The assassination of Tehran’s top nuclear scientist is a ploy by Israel to compel the likely US president-elect to reject diplomacy and choose military action to deal with Iran’s nuclear ambition. Which option will he choose?
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was the shadowy father of Iran’s nuclear program; his existence, let alone his work, was barely acknowledged by Iran. A brigadier general with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Command, Fakhrizadeh was involved in the academic aspects of Iranian national security, eventually heading up the Physics Research Center, where he masterminded the design and material acquisition in support of Iran’s uranium enrichment effort.
In April 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu named Fakhrizadeh as the head of a covert military dimension to Iran’s nuclear program, something Iran has vociferously denied. On Friday, November 28, 2020, the 62-year-old scientist was assassinated just outside the Iranian capital of Tehran. While no one has taken credit for his murder, Iran has placed the blame for his death squarely on Israel.
At the time of his death, Fakhrizadeh was the head of the Research and Innovation Organization (RIO), part of the Iranian Defense Ministry. A June 2020 report on nonproliferation published by the US Department of State alleged that Fakhrizadeh used the RIO “to keep former weapons program scientists employed … on [nuclear] weaponization-relevant dual-use technical activities … to aid in any future nuclear weapons development work in the event that a decision were made to resume such work.”

Iranian president points finger at Israel after assassination of top military scientist near Tehran
This belief, when combined with Iran’s decision to cease abiding by the provisions of the landmark 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, better known as the Iran nuclear agreement) regarding the stockpiling of low-enriched uranium and the use of advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium, had the de facto effect of signing Fakhrizadeh’s death warrant.
The JCPOA-imposed restrictions were designed with a one-year ‘breakout’ scenario in mind – in short, the time it would take Iran to produce enough highly enriched uranium to create a single nuclear device once the decision was made to cease adhering to restrictions on the numbers and types of centrifuges it could operate, the level of enrichment permitted, and the amount of low-enriched uranium allowed to be stockpiled.
In May 2019 – one year after President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the JCPOA – Iran began pulling back from its commitments under the agreement, citing its right to do so under Articles 26 and 36 of the deal, which allow a party to the agreement to cease its obligations if another party is found to be in noncompliance; Iran maintains that the failure of Europe to live up to its economic commitments under the JCPOA constituted demonstrable noncompliance. The end result is that today the ‘breakout’ period has shrunk to a few weeks.
For the Trump administration, Iran’s noncompliance with the JCPOA had placed it in a quandary; the policy of sanctions-based ‘maximum pressure’ which had been instituted since 2018 was clearly not working when it came to the goal of compelling Iran to return to the negotiation table and hammer out a new, more restrictive nuclear deal.