Iran has been left reeling following the death of one of their top nuclear scientists Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Iranian news has announced that Fakhrizadeh was ambushed with the explosion following gunfire, making it very likely his death was an assassination. Although there has been no official comment on who the perpetrators were, Iranian officials have pointed to Israel as leading the attack following a “secret” meeting between Saudi Arabia and Israel which Saudi Arabia had denied even took place.
The attack has prompted Iranian leaders to announce they “would not sleep” until
Fakhrizadeh was avenged. In a letter written by the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi, called the murder an “act of terror” which reserved Iran the right to use any means necessary to defend itself. He also asked the United Nations to condemn Israel for its actions. President Rouhani assured the global community they would not make any hasty decisions but added they would not forget his death easily.
Although Iran has pinned the blame on Israel, neither Israel nor the United States (a longtime ally of Israel) has given comments yet. However, it is unlikely the United States will condemn the act. On November 12th, Donald Trump had asked senior officials if it were possible to take action to take action at a prominent nuclear site in Iran. Only a few months ago, the United States had launched airstrikes on and killed Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian general. They had been charged with violating International Law from the UN Human Rights Council, but there are yet to be any consequences. The relationship between Iran, the United Nations, and the United States are already incredibly strained, but any defense of Israel from either the UN or the US could destroy tensions with Iran. For the U.N., ignoring Iran could lead to a disregard for international law in their quest for vengeance and an exposure of some possible double standards.
For the United States, ignoring Iran could remove any possibility of alliances in the future. This is especially crucial to the plans of the Biden administration. Biden has already expressed interest in reinstating the Iran Nuclear Deal from the Obama administration. This deal would agree that Iran would reduce its ability to build nuclear weapons by reducing its uranium supplies and comply with inspections from the International Atomic Energy Agency in exchange for lifting nuclear sanctions. The deal had gone well and was heralded as a diplomatic success, at least until Donald Trump withdrew in 2018 under the perceived inherent weaknesses of the deal. Israel has opposed the deal, so if it came out that Israel was truly behind the attack, Iran may be more incentivized to stockpile nuclear fuel. Even though Iran has claimed it has never sought to create a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear war is never zero. The simple presence of devices capable of creating destructive weapons increases the probability of nuclear war and with it, the lives a nuclear weapon can take.
Even if nuclear war doesn’t seem likely, the friction between Israel and Iran does not spell good news on a conventional level. As the former head of the CIA John Brennan put it,
Fakhrizadeh’s murder “risks lethal retaliation and a new round of regional conflict.” His murder was an incredibly reckless act, but for now, the world can only watch to see the level of retaliation Fakhrizadeh’s murder will incite.
*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.