The death of a high-level Iranian nuclear scientist, Ardeshir Hassanpour, was announced by Radio Farda and Iranian state television Jan. 25 — a week after his death occurred. The Radio Farda report implicitly related the cause for Hassanpour’s death to exposure to radioactive rays, though the details were murky. Stratfor sources close to Israeli intelligence have revealed, however, that Hassanpour was in fact a Mossad target.
Hassanpour is believed to have been one of Iran’s most prized nuclear scientists. Some reports claim he was named the best scientist in the military field in Iran in 2003, that he directed and founded the center for nuclear electromagnetic studies since 2005 and that he co-founded the Nuclear Technology Center in Isfahan, where Iran’s uranium-conversion facilities are located.
Decapitating a hostile nuclear program by taking out key human assets is a tactic that has proven its effectiveness over the years, particularly in the case of Iraq. In the months leading up to the 1981 Israeli airstrike on Iraq’s Osirak reactor — which was believed to be on the verge of producing plutonium for a weapons program — at least three Iraqi nuclear scientists died under mysterious circumstances.