By Vladimir Gladkov
A chemist playing a distinctive role at Iran’s nuclear program was killed on Wednesday. It is the fifth attack on Iranian nuclear scientists in the last 24 months, four of the incidents brought fatal results. Unsurprisingly, Tehran blames US and Israel. The assassination which came at a moment of extreme tension between Iran and the West may easily lead to irreversible consequences.
The assassination was conducted by a familiar scenario. The automobile, carrying Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan – deputy director of the Natanz enrichment plant, Iran’s main uranium enrichment facility – was approached by a motorcycle. The pillion passenger attached a charge to the door next to the scientist. As the motorcyclist drove off, the bomb detonated, killing Ahmadi-Roshad and his driver and wounding a pedestrian. The charge was similar to the ones used in the previous attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists – due to the explosive device’s special construction the blast was focused into the car.
The murder of Ahmadi-Roshan became the fifth attack on Iranian scientists, involved in the country’s nuclear program. While Tehran keeps insisting that its uranium enrichment program pursues exclusively peaceful goals, the western countries and, especially, Israel believe that Tehran is unhesitatingly moving towards the creation of its own nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, Iran accuses Israel of sabotaging its nuclear program. “This terrorist act was carried out by agents of the Zionist regime, with the aim of stopping our scientists,” stated the vice-president, Mohammad Reza Rahimi.
While Washington denies any involvement in the covert war against Iran’s nuclearization, Israel doesn’t even bother to reply to Tehran’s allegations.
“It’s not our policy to comment on this sort of speculation,” said an Israeli government official, sardonically commenting on the accusations. The comments from the other officials and experts kept the same tone. “I’m not talking about the Mossad, or something that somebody somewhere thinks it has done. The Mossad is supposed to be behind everything from the tsunami to sharks in the Red Sea,” – said Ilan Mizrahi, former head of the national security council and an ex-deputy chief of the Mossad.
Meanwhile, the attacks on Iranian scientists may easily be those “unnatural” events, Israel was warning about. “For Iran, 2012 is a critical year in combining the continuation of its nuclearization, internal changes in the Iranian leadership, continuing and growing pressure from the international community and things which take place in an unnatural manner,” stated Benny Gantz, the Israeli Defence Forces chief of staff.
While the methods of those, staying behind the assassinations, remain a topic for discussion, it is hard to deny that the moment Iran builds an atomic bomb may easily become the beginning of an end. The so called Doomsday Clock – a project maintained by the board of directors at the University of Chicago and representing the growing threat of a global apocalypse – now stands at five minutes to midnight. But the falling of a nuclear weapon into the hands of Tehran has all the chances to bring to move the clock hand all the way to the critical point. The Iranian government, known not only for its raging anti-Semitism, continuous accusations against the West and Israel. A covert war is also undoubtedly more preferable than air strikes, which would lead to civilian casualties and unleash another bloody war which may reach an unpredictable scale.
At the same time, the recent assassination came in the moment of some extremely high tensions between the West and Iran. Tehran finds itself cornered by the US and EU, who promise a new oil embargo and financial measures. The confrontation between Tehran and Washington over the oil flow through the Strait of Hormutz is getting tenser day by day. With its threats to close the Strait of Horowitz – the crucial point in the flow of oil from the Gulf, Iran has managed to infuriate not only the West but also its own neighbors.
While Iran is sinking deeper into a total isolation, its actions may become totally unpredictable and lead to catastrophic consequences.