On November 27, 2020, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the scientist who had for years overseen the Islamic Republic’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons, was assassinated while being driven through downtown Tehran. Based on interviews with unnamed sources, Jake Wallis Simons confirms what has long been assumed: that the Mossad carried out the assassination. Simons also sheds light on much that has so far been unknown, including the method by which it was done:
Neither [Fakhrizadeh’s] wife nor any of his [twelve-person] security team were harmed in the attack, which was carried out using a hyper-accurate automated weapon in order to protect civilians from collateral damage. The bespoke weapon, operated remotely by agents on the ground as they observed the target, was so heavy because it included a bomb that destroyed the evidence after the killing.
The Mossad made up its mind to eliminate Fakhrizadeh after examining the nuclear archive that it had spirited out of Iran in 2018:
“[The archive] contained original documents ordering the concealment of the nuclear program, many of them in Fakhrizadeh’s handwriting,” a source said. “Analysts realized they were looking at his ink, his fingerprints, his pressure on the paper as he wrote. He was the one who was behind the deception. [He] was the father of everything we found in the archive. All was under his command, from the science and the secret sites to the personnel and know-how. He had led an operation to hide it from the world. From that point, it was just a matter of time.”
Besides finding out some of the Hollywood style derring-do behind the operation, Simons also learned about its benefits. He quotes a source who told him:
Tehran has assessed that it will take six years to find a replacement for Fakhrizadeh. Israeli analysis has now put the breakout time (the period it would take Iran to finalize a nuclear bomb) at two years. Before Fakhrizadeh departed, it was about three months.