Good afternoon from Jerusalem. The assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist

(da Telegraph Middle East, 02.12.2020)

The assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist last week

Good afternoon from Jerusalem,

The assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist last week, allegedly at the hands of Israel, has revived speculation about a full-blown armed conflict in the Middle East.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed by assassins who detonated an explosive device near his car and then riddled it with bullets, reportedly using remote-controlled technology.

Yesterday, Iran vowed to inflict “maximum pain” on the assassins and warned that it would not heed calls for restraint from the international community. You can read the latest political developments on the killing here.

But could this high-profile assassination lead to military conflict, as some have claimed? My understanding, having spoken to the experts, is that this is unlikely.

The Iranian regime, they say, is too cautious to risk starting a war with Israel – despite its bellicose rhetoric.

And yet Iran will retaliate for the assassination, I am told. Some of the ways this could unfold are outlined here.

But who was this mysterious scientist, who in the view of US and Israeli officials posed such a major threat to the region and as a result was snuffed out so violently? I answer some of the key questions about him in this profile.

This is not the only major Iran story to break in recent days, of course.

Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a British Australian academic, has been released from prison in Iran and yesterday thanked those who campaigned for her release “from the bottom of my heart.”

Unfortunately Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian mother also held in Iran on dubious spying charges, continues to be kept under house arrest.

Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, is calling on the British government to treat Nazanin as a hostage held by the Iranians. You can read about the latest details on her case here.

The Iran issue is also making headlines in Europe, as one of the regime’s diplomats has refused to attend a court in Brussels, where he faces charges of attempting to bomb a meeting of exiled Iranian dissidents.

That’s all from me, for now. But I look forward to updating you again on the latest developments in the Middle East next week.