Top Iranian Nuclear Scientist Assassinated

) A handout picture released by Iran's Atomic Energy Organization on November 4, 2019, shows the atomic enrichment facilities Natanz nuclear power plant, some 300 kilometres south of capital Tehran. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran / AFP
A handout picture released by Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization on November 4, 2019, shows the atomic enrichment facilities Natanz nuclear power plant, some 300 kilometres south of capital Tehran. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran / AFP

 

Iran said one of its most prominent nuclear scientists was assassinated on Friday in an attack on his car outside Tehran that it accused arch foe Israel of being behind.

The scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was “seriously wounded” when assailants targeted his car before being engaged in a gunfight with his security team, Iran’s defence ministry said in a statement.

It added that Fakhrizadeh, who headed the ministry’s reasearch and innovation organisation, was later “martyred” after medics failed to revive him.

Fakhrizadeh, once described by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the father of Iran’s nuclear weapons programme, had been travelling in a car near Absard city in Tehran province’s eastern Damavand county.

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A state television report on the assassination described him as one “of our country’s nuclear scientists” and said that Israel “had an old and deep enmity towards him”.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said there were “serious indications of an Israeli role” in the scientist’s assassination.

“Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today,” Zarif wrote on Twitter.

“This cowardice — with serious indications of Israeli role — shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators,” he added.

He also called on the international community to “end their shameful double standards & condemn this act of state terror.”

Fakhrizadeh’s assassination comes less than two months before Joe Biden is to take office as US president.

Biden has promised a return to diplomacy with Iran after four hawkish years under incumbent US President Donald Trump, who withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and began reimposing crippling sanctions.

Series of assassinations

Trump said at the time that the deal known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) did not offer sufficient guarantees to stop Tehran from acquiring an atomic bomb.

Iran has always denied it wants such a weapon.

Trump on Friday retweeted reports on Fakhrizadeh’s assassination, without commenting on it himself.

The killing comes a day after Thailand said it had returned three Iranians jailed over a botched 2012 bomb plot in Bangkok that Israel had linked to a spate of attacks on its diplomats around the world.

A handout photo made available by Iran state TV (IRIB) on November 27, 2020, shows the damaged car of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh after it was attacked near the capital Tehran. IRIB NEWS AGENCY / AFP
A handout photo made available by Iran state TV (IRIB) on November 27, 2020, shows the damaged car of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh after it was attacked near the capital Tehran. IRIB NEWS AGENCY / AFP

 

Iran said the three were “a businessman and two” other Iranians detained abroad on the basis of “false accusations,” without giving further information.

They killing of Fakhrizadeh is the latest in a series of assassinations of nuclear scientists in Iran in recent years that the Islamic republic has blamed Israel of carrying out.

The New York Times reported earlier in November that Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command was secretly shot and killed in Tehran by two Israeli operatives on a motorcycle at Washington’s behest.

The senior leader, who went by the nom de guerre Abu Muhammad al-Masri, was killed in August along with his daughter, Miriam, the widow of Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza, the Times said, citing intelligence sources.

Iran said the report was based on “made-up information” and reaffirmed its denial of the presence of any of the group’s members in the Islamic republic.

Iran’s state news IRNA and Mehr news agency at the time reported a similar incident and identified the victims as Habib Dawoud, a 58-year-old Lebanese history teacher, and his daughter Maryam, 27, without giving further details.

 

AFP

Nigeria Will Harness Nuclear Energy For Development – Jonathan

jonathan600The Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, has reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment to the global fight against the threat of nuclear terrorism, but said that Nigeria, under his leadership, will continue to pursue efforts to harness nuclear energy and technology for socio-economic development.

In his statement to the third Global Security Summit which opened at The Hague in the Netherlands on Monday, President Jonathan upheld the view that international and regional cooperation efforts should be based on the principle of maintaining a balance between nuclear non-proliferation obligations and the inalienable right of States to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy for development purposes. 

“While this is important, we would also like to draw attention to the need to maintain the highest standards of nuclear safety and security in establishing peaceful nuclear facilities,” the President said.

He told the gathering that in keeping with Nigeria’s commitment to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and the peaceful use of nuclear technology, the Federal Government had submitted an executive bill to the National Assembly to accommodate the country’s obligations under international treaties on nuclear safety and security.

“Nigeria accords high priority to all global efforts towards ending the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, including nuclear weapons.  To this end, Nigeria has since the last Summit in Seoul, strengthened the legal framework for fighting terrorism through the adoption in 2013, of an amendment to its Terrorism (Prevention) Act, thus ensuring the implementation of more robust counter-terrorism measures.

“Nigeria’s ratification of some international treaties and conventions in the realm of nuclear safety, security and safeguards has necessitated the review of the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority Act resulting in the recent decision of the Government to submit a new Bill to Parliament for consideration and passage into law in order to accommodate our obligations under these instruments.

“The instruments include the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials and its amended version of 2005, the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. The intention of the bill is to ensure the fulfilment of Nigeria’s international and national Nuclear Safety, Security, Safeguards and radiation protection obligations, by domesticating the international treaties.  The bill is presently awaiting passage by the National Assembly.

“Furthermore, as part of the outcome of the second Nuclear Security Summit held in Seoul, South Korea in 2010, States Parties were urged on voluntary basis, to embark on the process of converting their reactors from the use of Highly Enriched Uranium to Lowly Enriched Uranium.  Consequently, Nigeria is working in collaboration with the United States of America and China for the conversion of Nigeria’s limited stock of Highly Enriched Uranium used in its research reactor to Lowly Enriched Uranium,” President Jonathan said.

The Nigerian President stressed  that the main objectives of the Nuclear Security Summit was to reduce the amount of dangerous nuclear materials in the world by preventing materials that could be used to produce nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists and unauthorised non-state actors.

More Nuclear Security 

He reiterated Nigeria’s support for the immediate commencement and early conclusion of negotiations on a “non-discriminatory, multi-lateral and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons”.

President Jonathan also commended the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki Moon for establishing a Group of Governmental Experts which will begin work in Geneva next week on the proposal.

“Nigeria shares the view that fewer nuclear weapons translate into more nuclear security while at the same time reducing the risk of proliferation.

“But it is even more important that States, as represented at this Summit, demonstrate the necessary political will to embark on the path towards the ultimate goal of total and complete nuclear disarmament under strict and effective international control,” Jonathan concluded.

He thanked the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mr Mark Rutte, for hosting the summit and commended President Barack Obama, who was present at the opening ceremony, “for his continued leadership of this important project”.

Other world leaders participating in the summit include President Xi Jinping of China, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, President Francois Hollande of France, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, the President of South Korea, Ms Park Geun-hye and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki Moon.