BERLIN – The assassination of the Iranian nuclear scientist in Tehran last week was the first major operation of Mossad director Tamir Pardo, the Der Spiegel website reported Monday.
The article, which quotes an Israeli intelligence source, surveys the series of assassination attempts involving Iranian scientists in the past 18 months and points to the Mossad as the organization at the forefront of Israel's campaign against an Iranian nuclear bomb.
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According to reports, the scientist was shot to death last Saturday while taking his daughter to kindergarten. "It was the first public operation by new Mossad chief Tamir Pardo," an unnamed Israeli intelligence source told Der Spiegel's correspondent in Beirut.
It was later revealed that the victim was involved in the development of switches for a nuclear bomb and had worked in a research center in northern Tehran.
The days after the hit saw many conflicting reports regarding the victim's identity. Iran's State-run media initially identified him as Darioush Rezaei, a physics professor and expert in neutron transport, but backtracked within hours, with officials subsequently naming him as Darioush Rezaeinejad, an electronics student.
According to the Der Spiegel report, the victim is Professor Rezaei, who was not seen in public since the hit.
In January 2010, Iranian nuclear scientist Mohammed Ali Masoudi was assassinated in Tehran. In November of that year physics professor Majid Shahriari was also killed.
According to Der Spiegel's source, many Israel Air Force officers are pushing for an aerial attack on Iranian nuclear sites, a plan the Mossad is against.
"It's also a matter of prestige between the organizations," the source said. "As long as the Mossad is leading the campaign against the Iranian nuclear program it continues to get the big budgets."
Iran has submitted a letter to the UN's Human Rights Council demanding an investigation into the assassination of Daryoush Rezayeenejad last week.
Javad Larijani, the secretary general of Iran's High Council of Human Rights, accused Israel and the West of assassinating an electrical engineering graduate student.
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