Skip to main content

Nuclear scientist's assassination puts Tehran at crossroads

As Iran investigates the assassination of a top nuclear scientist, fingers are already pointing at Israel and the United States, whose outgoing administration clearly wants to minimize the chances of reviving the nuclear deal.
Students of Iran's Basij paramilitary force burn posters depicting US President Donald Trump (top) and President-elect Joe Biden, during a rally in front of the foreign ministry in Tehran, on November 28, 2020, to protest the killing of prominent nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh a day earlier near the capital. - Iran's President Hassan Rouhani accused arch-foe Israel of acting as a "mercenary" for the US and seeking to create chaos, blaming it for the assassination of a top Iranian nuclear scientist. (P
Read in 

Few outside of Iran had ever heard of the city of Absard until senior Defense Ministry official and nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed on the main road that links it to the capital Tehran. The city’s name means cold water, and Nov. 27 certainly poured it on the Iranian establishment, bringing into question the efficiency of the security institutions and the abilities of the country’s enemies to impede Tehran’s strategic projects.

Fakhrizadeh, described by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the father of Iran’s military nuclear project, had just ended a lunch at his in-laws and was in his car in a convoy of three vehicles heading back to Tehran. According to Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatemi, a group of armed men rained bullets on his bodyguards’ car, forcing the convoy to stop. Then a truck on the side of the road rigged with explosives was detonated, and the armed men once again opened fire, killing most of Fakhrizadeh’s men as well as the scientist himself, in view of his wife who was in the third car.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.