Iran’s top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated Friday while driving on a highway outside Tehran.
Iran accuses Israel of orchestrating the killing, which is the latest in a string of assassinations targeting scientists involved with Iran’s nuclear program.
Between 2010 and 2012, four Iranian nuclear scientists were assassinated, and analysts say Fakhrizadeh’s death was designed to make it harder for President-elect Joe Biden to rejoin the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran when he takes office.
Iran has long maintained its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. “Israel has always denied involvement, but it’s really the only country with both the motivation and the capability to conduct such attacks,” says Iranian American journalist Negar Mortazavi, host of The Iran Podcast.
She says the assassination could be an attempt “to provoke Iran into a violent retaliation and basically pull Iran into a wider military conflict with the United States,” as well as to complicate future diplomacy between Iranian leaders and the Biden administration.
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