Iran scientist assassination could undercut Biden’s diplomatic options

30 November, 2020 12:00 AM printer

WASHINGTON: The assassination of a top Iranian nuclear scientist, which Tehran has blamed on Israel, risks not only sharpening tensions across the region but also severely complicating plans by US President-elect Joe Biden to resume dialogue with the Islamic republic, analysts said on Saturday, reports AFP.

Iran has accused arch-foe Israel of seeking to sow “chaos” by killing 59-year-old Mohsen Fakhrizadeh and has strongly implied that the Jewish state was acting with US blessing.

Washington has not officially commented on the operation, in which gunmen targeted Fakhrizadeh’s car on a road outside Tehran, according to Iran’s defense ministry.

But President Donald Trump has retweeted others’ comments on the incident, including at least one that said the scientist had been “wanted for many years by Mossad,” the Israeli intelligence agency.

Trump in 2018 withdrew the US from the multination nuclear agreement with Iran, instead launching a “maximum pressure” campaign which he appears determined to pursue until he leaves office in January.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who recently visited Israel, on Friday announced new economic sanctions against some Chinese and Russian firms accused of having supported Iran’s missile program.

“This administration... is here until January 20” and will “continue to pursue its policies,” a senior US official traveling with Pompeo said during a stop Sunday in Abu Dhabi.

“I would hope that this leverage that the administration works so hard to get will be used to good purpose to get the Iranians to, once again, start behaving like a normal state.”