Behind the murder of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the main man behind the Iranian nuclear program, was Israel’s secret service, the Mossad. That says the Israeli investigative journalist Ronen Bergman. He writes for The New York Times and wrote the book Shadow War about the covert operations of the Israeli intelligence service.
“Israel is fighting against every nuclear threat and is doing everything it can to stop Iran’s nuclear program,” Bergman said. Fakhrizadeh was secretly working on developing a nuclear weapon, according to Israel. Bergman estimates that the US CIA was aware. “Given the intimate relationship between Mossad and CIA, that seems to me to be expected.” The two countries work closely together and have exchanged intelligence for decades.
In 2018, Israeli intelligence seized documents during a raid on Tehran. This would show that Iran is building a nuclear weapon. “During that Ocean’s Eleven-like action, handwritten papers were looted. Handwritten by Fakhrizadeh, in which he describes top secret techniques about making an atomic bomb. That is why the murder of this man so important to Iran is important to Israel. Also symbolically.”
The liquidation has a huge impact in Iran, Bergman says. “The regime is wondering: why have we not been able to protect this important man? So anyone can be killed. The regime is well aware of that.”
The attack comes at a precarious moment, on the eve of a change of power in the United States. Donald Trump decided to leave the nuclear deal with Iran in 2018. But future president Joe Biden has announced that he wants to reconnect with Iran. Israel is not in favor of that and would not mind any escalation in the coming weeks. That makes it more difficult for Biden to sit down with Iran again.
Bergman does not think the attack has been launched as quickly as Trump is still at the helm. “Such a complicated attack requires enormous preparations. You can’t just carry out an operation like that. They worked on it for months. But they didn’t cancel it either, that says something.”
Bergman does not take Iran’s retaliatory threats too seriously. “The rulers in Iran mainly want to consolidate their power. To do this, the boycotts and sanctions must be removed. A war with the US and Israel is not in the interest of the regime. They would rather wait for the new wind from the White House. “