Top Iranian Nuclear Scientist Assassinated Near Tehran; Trump Sought Advice on Strike Against Iran’s Nuclear Program

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, one of Iran’s top nuclear program scientists, was killed in an ambush. The ambush occurred in Damavand, east of Tehran. According to reports from Iran, Fakhrizadeh was the target of gunfire and an explosion. Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammed Javdd Zarif implied Israel was behind the attack. Fakhrizadeh was purportedly the head of Iran’s program to develop nuclear weapons. Reported by CNN. Read more… Reported by Fox News. Read more… Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… Israeli Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, the former head of Israel’s military intelligence, says that Fakhrizadeh was so central to Iran’s nuclear program that he will be almost impossible to replace. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… The New York Times reported that one U.S. official and two intelligence officials said that Israel was behind the attack. Reported by The New York Times. Read more… Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… Calling Fakhrizadeh “the country’s prominent and distinguished nuclear and defensive scientist,” the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, said Iran’s first priority was the “definitive punishment of the perpetrators and those who ordered it.” Reported by Fox News. Read more… After Khamenei vowed revenge, the United States re-deployed the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier back to the Middle East. Reported by Fox News. Read more…

As calls for retaliation continued, Kamal Kharrazi, a top advisor to Khamenei and head of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, said in a statement that Iran is plotting a “calculated and decisive” response: “Undoubtedly, Iran will give a calculated and decisive answer to the criminals who took Martyr Mohsen Fakhrizadeh from the Iranian nation.” Iran’s religious and military elite blame Israel for the assassination. Iran’s hardline Kayhan daily called for a strike on the Israeli port of Haifa. Reported by Reuters. Read more… Sheikh Naim Qassem, the deputy leader of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group, said, “We condemn this heinous attack and see that the response to this crime is in the hands of those concerned in Iran.” Reported by Reuters. Read more… Fars, Iran’s semi-official news site, claims the attack was carried out by remote control, using a machine gun attached to a car. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… Iranian media described a truck bomb that exploded when Fakhrizadeh’s car approached, following by an intense firefight. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… The European Union condemned Fakhrizadeh’s killing, calling it a criminal act that runs counter to the principle of respect for human rights. Reported by Fox News. Read more…

Senior national security team advisors reportedly talked outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump out of a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program. Trump reportedly met with his national security team during the second week of November to discuss how to address an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report of a significant increase in Iran’s uranium stockpile. Reported by Fox News. Read more… Nonetheless, Israel is preparing for a possible U.S. military strike against Iran’s nuclear program. Although no intelligence suggests an imminent U.S. strike, Israeli officials reportedly anticipate that the coming weeks will be “a very sensitive period.” Reported by Fox News. Read more…

Iran continues to violate the 2015 deal. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran has begun using advanced uranium-enriching centrifuges that it had installed underground at its Natanz site, says a report from the agency. The move represents the latest breach of the nuclear deal. Reuters obtained a copy of the report on November 18, 2020. Reported by Reuters. Read more… The IAEA and the U.S. also want an explanation from Iran as to the origin of uranium particles that were found almost two years ago. The particles were found at an old but undeclared site. Israel has called the site a “secret nuclear warehouse” and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outed the site in a 2018 speech at the U.N. Reported by Reuters. Read more…