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Illustration by Security Management

Iran Blames Israel and Internal Security Breaches on Slaying of Nuclear Scientist

Friday's killing of Iranian nuclear physicist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh represented a major breach of security within Iran's military, according to a new report from Reuters.

“His assassins obviously operated based on detailed intelligence,” said one unnamed source in the report. “It is clearly a security weakness and many questions should be answered. We should know whether there are spies among security people and locate the leak. This is essential for us.”

Fakhrizadeh was killed in an ambush on a rural road outside of Tehran. Details of the attack have been sketchy, with reports of an explosion nearby and a remote-controlled machine gun firing out of a car or a pick-up truck—this following initial reports described gunmen at the scene. On Monday, the head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council confirmed it was a remote attack and that “no one was present at the scene.”

Reporting from The Washington Post supports the Reuter’s analysis of security breaches: “Accounts of Fakhrizadeh’s killing indicated his movements were being tracked and the attack was coordinated.”

No one has taken responsibility for the attack, though Iran has publicly blamed Israel, a notion widely accepted as probable given the circumstances of the attack. The questions now shift to why now and how will Iran respond?

Another report in The Washington Post analyzes the possible reasons for the assassination, everything from the right opportunity to acting in advance of the U.S. transition to a Biden Administration that is more likely to reinstitute a more diplomatic approach to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

As for the latter question, the BBC outlines four possible actions in response from Iran, everything from sitting tight and waiting to see how the Biden Administration approaches the country to retaliating with an assassination attempt of an Israeli official.

The possible use of a remote-controlled automatic weapon in the attack is an escalation of remote warfare, according to a report in Forbes: “If true, this would be the highest-profile use of such a weapon, but it’s only a minor step technically, as improvised robot weapons are becoming increasingly common for terrorists and insurgents.”