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Iran in a tough spot after killing of scientist, says ex-Israeli intelligence chief

Published: (Updated: ) in European News by .

Tehran will want to retaliate but that could cause big problems, says Amos Yadlin.

The killing of top scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh is a serious blow to Iran but any retaliation could have consequences for the future of the country’s nuclear deal, according to Amos Yadlin, former head of Israeli army intelligence.

Fakhrizadeh, who played a crucial role in Iran’s nuclear program and who Israel accused of secretly helping to develop nuclear weapons, was killed on Friday. Tehran believes Israel was behind the attack but no one has claimed responsibility and during a briefing with reporters on Wednesday, Yadlin, who spent more than 40 years in the Israel Defense Forces before retiring, said he could not “confirm that it was an Israeli action.”

But he stressed that it was a big blow for the Iranian regime, likening it to the killing of Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite Quds forces, by the U.S. in January. Soleimani’s “replacement is not as capable as he was,” Yadlin said, adding that replacing Fakhrizadeh is going to be tricky for the Iranians as “sometimes there are personalities [for whom] their replacement is very difficult.” 

Many analysts believe that the killing of Fakhrizadeh was aimed at making it more difficult to relaunch the 2015 Iran deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), under which Iran accepted constraints on its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

The JCPOA was abandoned by the Donald Trump administration but U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has said he wants to rejoin the deal, which the EU has tried to preserve.

For Yadlin there are four candidates who could have carried out the attack on Fakhrizadeh: “The U.S, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Iranian opposition.” To prepare such an attack would have involved “years” of intelligence work, he said.

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Trump reportedly recently asked advisers whether it was an option to take action against Iran’s main nuclear site and Yadlin said “maybe those who conducted the operation now … thought that this is the last chance to give Trump a good excuse to attack the nuclear facilities if the Iranians retaliate.”

Yadlin said that “any aggression from Iran will make it more difficult” for new life to be breathed into the JCPOA.

As a result of the attack, Iranians “feel like they have to retaliate,” he added, and they have many options of doing so, from attacking embassies to attacking Israeli scientists or using proxies like Lebanon’s Hezbollah militias.

“The Iranians are looking for the right timing, are looking for an operation that on one hand would be a retaliation on the other hand will not escalate to more attacks on Iran,” Yadlin said. 

 

Source: POLITICO https://www.politico.eu/article/iran-in-a-tough-spot-after-killing-of-scientist-says-ex-israeli-intelligence-chief/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication

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