The patently planned assassination of Iran's veteran nuclear-defence scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, augurs ill for not only Iran but to the world at large. Terrorists in an ambush in a village near Teheran attacked the car in which he was travelling. Their truck carrying firewood with hidden explosives blasted. Five assailants were killed in the counter attack by security guards, and Fakhrizadeh died after being admitted to hospital. The attack came when tensions following a similar attack in Baghdad in January - in which Iran's military commanded Qasem Suleimani was killed by US airforce bombing - remain still high; now another senior military leader of Iran has fallen victim to premeditated assassination. Fakhrizadeh was a top scientist of the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps an chief of Iran's nuclear programme. When Iranian scientists and technocrats, who had fallen into disfavour of the occupying forces including Israel and the US, are being eliminated one after another, the diabolic preparation is all too plain as much as that the target is not individuals but Iran itself. Over the last decade, Iran has lost half a dozen scientists in this series, including Massoud Ali Mohammadi, Majid Shahriyari, Darioush Rezai Nejad, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani and Motafa Ahmedi Roshan. There are also other scientists who escaped after being hurt. Quite meaningful was the reaction by Iranian military leader Major General Hossein Salami that a bunch of forces who use nuclear technology for murders, are toppling Iran's attempts to acquire the same technology for peaceful purposes.
None has claimed responsibility for the killing so far. Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif alleged that the refusal of European countries, except Turkey, and other Western big power governments to even call it terrorism, shows their double standards. The European Union, which stopped short of directly denouncing the attack and termed it only as a 'crime', chose to cite it as against principles of human rights. The EU also called for restraint by all parties concerned. However, the UN which also called for restraint, denounced the assassination. Iran government squarely places the blame on Israel citing serious indications of Israel's hands behind the killing, a charge Israel denies. At the same time, it is the Zionist regime – apart from the US - that has shown the keenest interest to liquidate Iran's scientists. Israel had even earlier accused Fakhrizadeh of being the mastermind behind its secret nuclear arms plan. Even if that allegation were true, the UN had certified as early as in 2003 that Iran had abandoned its nuclear bomb projects. And on its part, Iran had reiterated over and over that its nuclear venture is purely for energy generation and a nuclear bomb has never been in its agenda. But then, two possessors of nuclear weapons, Israel and America, with allegations about Iran's atomic bomb, not only tightened the embargo against Iran but also nudged the Arab countries to a bellicose posture against it. Since the US unilaterally pulled out of the nuclear deal with Iran, the latter did marginally strengthen its atomic capability, which again Israel charged was for bomb making. Many now also recall that at a news conference in 2018, Netanyahu had held up the photo of Fakhrizadeh and urged people to 'remember that name'.
Although the series of assassinations have amply provoked Iran, it stoutly avoids giving an excuse to Israel and America, who want to drag Iran into a war; hence its restraint as per reports. At any rate, America under Trump and Israel under Netanyahu are in an all-out effort to escalate tension and make capital out of it. And Trump is heard to be itching to vitiate US foreign relations as much as possible by the time Joe Biden is sworn in as President – and this will be music to Netanyahu's ears too. Observers also read that Joe Biden may revisit the US decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal and Trump aims to overturn intercept such moves. It is no secret that the biggest beneficiary of Fakhrizadeh's death is Israel; Israeli intelligence agency Mossad had already gone after him, and once he narrowly escaped. Now when Trump is about to quit office, reports have also surfaced about certain high ranking US administration officials having made a tour of Arab countries opposed to Iran – all aimed at creating confrontation. Such reports also speak of a clandestine meeting between US state secretary Mike Pompeo and Netanyahu, but the former reportedly did not respond in favour or against Netanyahu's suggestion to attack Iran. The compelling inference is that they are in a hurry to trigger a war, and Fakhrizadeh's assassination quite fits in with their trigger-happy designs. That is the reason for Iran's treading with extreme caution. All the same, the sad state of affairs is that there is not a strong voice in the world seeking peace heard that can compel attention – and UN has become that much ineffectual too.