May 25, 2013
How Israel Justified the Killing of an Iranian Researcher
Posted on Mar 17, 2012
By Gareth Porter, Truthout
This piece originally appeared on Truthout.
On July 23, 2011, a 35-year-old Iranian electrical engineering student named Darioush Rezaeinejad was gunned down as he and his wife, who was also wounded in the attack, waited for their child in front of a kindergarten in Tehran.
Israel has never denied that it was behind that assassination, and two senior US officials have confirmed to NBC news that the accusation by Ali Larijani—a senior adviser to Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei—that Israel’s Mossad had used the Mujahideen E. Khalq (MEK) to carry out the killing of Iranian scientists was essentially accurate.
Rezaeinejad was the fourth Iranian scientist whom the Israelis had tried to assassinate, but what was different about his assassination is the subsequent effort by the Israelis to justify it after the fact. That effort casts new light not only on the larger assassination campaign, but on the way in which Israel has gone about constructing its contention that there is an active Iranian nuclear weapons program.
In the first hours after Rezaeinejad was gunned down, the chancellor of Khajeh Nasir Toosi University, Majid Ghasemi, identified him as an MS electrical engineering student who had specialized in power engineering. Ghasemi said he was unaware of any involvement by Rezaeinejad in Iran’s nuclear program.
Fars News Agency reported the next day that it was indeed the student in electrical engineering who had been assassinated. The agency reported that Rezaeinejad had been doing basic research on high-voltage switches. Noting that high-voltage switches are used in detonators for nuclear weapons and missiles, the agency speculated that this was why Rezaeinejad was put on an “assassination list.”
It pointed out, however, that high-voltage switches have many nonmilitary as well as conventional applications, and insisted there was “no evidence” that Rezaeinejad’s work was related to nuclear weapons.
The possibility that Mossad killed the wrong Iranian scientist cannot be completely ruled out. But almost immediately after his murder, Israel sought to justify the murder of Rezaeinejad by presenting him as working on the covert nuclear weapons program Israel had been claiming for years. Associated Press correspondent in Vienna George Jahn reported on July 28 that an anonymous official of an anonymous “member state” of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told him Rezaeinejad had been participating in “developing high voltage switches,” which he described as “a key component in setting off the explosives needed to trigger a nuclear warhead.”
Jahn’s anonymous source also gave him the abstract of a professional paper by Rezaeinejad, which Jahn reported “appeared to back that claim.” Jahn went on to quote a source he described as a “former UN nuclear inspector,” who said the title of the paper would make an “explosive application” of the switch “likely” and suggested that he had co-written professional articles with a specialist on “explosives testing,” further confirming that view.
Two months later, on September 19, Jahn and his anonymous source from the unnamed member state were back at it again, this time with a purported “intelligence summary” claiming to identify the researcher who had allegedly collaborated with Rezaeinejad on making a “key component” of a nuclear weapon as Mojtaba Dadashnejad. The alleged collaborator was said to have been playing “a key role at the center of the Iranian nuclear project,” according to Jahn.
The “intelligence summary” further claimed that Iranian officials suspected that Dadashnejad had “leaked information” that led to the killing. There was no explanation as to why the purported collaborator, supposedly at “the center” of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, would have decided to “leak” information that he would have known would expose both of them to being killed by an Israeli-sponsored assassination team.
Finally, the intelligence summary claimed that Rezaeinejad was not an electrical engineer at all, but a “physicist” who had worked for the Iranian defense ministry on not only high-voltage switches, but also on other projects linked to nuclear weapons development—which it did not identify.
But an investigation into the Rezaeinejad case reveals that Israel had used the AP’s Jahn to carry out a deliberate disinformation campaign about the victim to justify his murder. Rezaeinejad left a record of published research which makes it very clear that he was indeed an electrical engineer, rather than a physicist, and that he had been working on basic electrical power engineering technologies.
New and Improved Comments