The recent assassination of a top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh appears to be calculated to complicate US President-elect Joe Biden’s ability to restart diplomacy between Washington and Tehran.
Political analysts link the timing of the secret operation, widely attributed to Israel’s Mossad, to the coming change of administrations in Washington and Israel’s intensified efforts to derail the future US-Iran talks on the return to the 2015 nuclear deal.
Therefore, killing the nuclear scientist was likely not the main goal of the operation.
“There must be no return to the previous nuclear agreement,” Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared shortly after Biden announced he will return to Obama’s 2015 international accord that curbed the Iranian nuclear program from which the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew in 2018.
Independent observers believe both Israel and outgoing US President Donald Trump will continue taking further provocations in the weeks before January 20 to leave the incoming Biden administration in a hard-to-move position.
It was revealed in mid-November Trump asked senior advisers for options to strike Iran’s nuclear research facility at Natanz before he leaves office.
The pattern is particularly designed to trigger a retaliation from Iran, probably an attack on US assets in the region to leave a mess for the Biden administration to deal with.
There were unconfirmed reports on November 30 that a senior commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard was killed in an apparent drone strike along the Syrian-Iraqi border.
It appears the efforts will continue to trigger a retaliation from Iran. The US has long said an Iranian attack on Israel would trigger a military response from it and Tehran knows this. So, Iran usually chooses to retaliate via a proxy to avoid a direct conflict, especially in the case of this critical period unless a red line is crossed.
So now the question is how to cross that red line.
Top current and former US officials have so far raised concerns.
Ex-CIA Director John Brennan called the attack “a criminal act & highly reckless”.
“Iranian leaders would be wise to wait for the return of responsible American leadership on the global stage & to resist the urge to respond against perceived culprits,” Brennan tweeted
If the primary purpose of the killing of Mr. Fakhrizadeh was to make it harder to restart the Iran nuclear agreement, then this assassination does not make America, Israel or the world safer.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) November 27, 2020