Yossi Melman, one of Israel’s senior military correspondents, writes in The Independent that the Mossad is responsible for yesterday’s multiple hits on two Iranian nuclear scientists:
Three events – not seemingly related – took place yesterday. The leaking of State Department documents, many of which deal with the world’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme; the mysterious assassination in Tehran of a top Iranian nuclear scientist and the wounding of another, and the appointment of Tamir Pardo as the new head of Mossad, Israel’s foreign espionage agency.
But there’s a link between them. They are part of the endless efforts by the Israeli intelligence community, together with its Western counterparts including Britain’s MI6 and America’s CIA, to sabotage, delay and if possible, to stop Iran from reaching its goal of having its first nuclear bomb.
The attack on the two scientists, one of them mentioned as a top nuclear scientist working with Iran’s Ministry of Defence, was part of these efforts. No organisation claimed responsibility but it is obvious, not just because of accusations by Iranian officials and Iran’s media, that Israel was behind it. Most experts who follow Middle East politics and Mossad history would agree.
It is at least the fourth attempt to assassinate Iranian scientists linked with the country’s nuclear programme in four years. There were probably other attempts which did not hit the headlines. The attribution to Mossad is not because of the use of motorcycles, though in the past Mossad has been involved in similar operations. The best known one was in 1995 in Valletta, Malta, when a Mossad hit-team liquidated Dr Fathi Shkaki, the leader of the Islamic Jihad.
Melman is a very sober, cautious reporter and he would not publish such statements without knowning beforehand that they are true.
I should add to Melman’s last paragraph that Mossad agent Immanuel Sonino died in a 1993 motorcycle accident in Vienna when he was tailing another Iranian official who was seeking to purchase chemical weapons from an Israeli arms dealer. To this day, Sonino’s family cannot mourn their child by name or receive any publicity for their charitable efforts to memorialize him. The cruelty of the national security state.
It’s instructive that Melman adds in the last sentence of his report the warning that no one can stop a nation hellbent on securing nuclear weapons. No amount of computer worms, or assassinations can put off the day of nuclear reckoning. Not even a military attack can do so. It just delays the inevitable. What Israel and the U.S. fail to understand is that sabotage and even military assault isn’t a substitute for a policy. It’s a stop gap and more a signal of a failure of policy. Engagement and negotiation, no matter how imperfect and frustrating they may be, are the only way forward. The only way out of a dead end.