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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Who killed Iranian nuke physicist Masoud Alimohammadi?

Remember Masoud Alimohammadi, the Iranian nuclear physics professor who was killed by an exploding motorcycle last month? At first, it was assumed that because he was a supporter of the Green revolution and Mir Hossein Mousavi, he was killed by the Ahmadinejad regime. Now, it turns out that he was an important cog in Iran's nuclear program and that someone else may have wanted him dead.
Well-placed sources in two Western countries now say the professor was “one of the most important people involved in the programme”.

Such conclusions, admit some, are based on “imperfect insight” into the workings of Iran’s nuclear establishment that includes the public and ostensibly civil projects run by the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) and an overlapping but secret organisation run by the ministry of defence that focuses more on turning fissile material into nuclear weapons.

The AEOI said it had not employed Mr Alimohammadi. Several Iran-watchers said they had never heard of him until his death. But a Western counter-proliferation source says he “is known to have worked closely” with two key figures in Iran’s ministry of defence, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi and Fereidoun Abbasi-Davani. Both are on the UN’s sanctions list of Iranians whose assets are to be seized and whose travels must be reported to the UN.

Even if correct, this does not prove the professor was killed by outsiders. It may provide a stronger motive for Iran to kill a scientist for flirting with the opposition or to stop his defection. But why blow him up ostentatiously in the morning instead of removing him quietly at night? Perhaps to warn other would-be defectors?
Where was Meir Dagan that day anyway? Heh.


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