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Reports that an Iranian scientist working on Iran’s nuclear program has been assassinated by the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad, appear to be the latest in a series of deliberate fabrications. Ardeshire Hassanpour, who died on Jan. 15, was an award-winning and internationally known scientist who worked at a plant in Isfahan where uranium hexafluoride gas is produced. The gas is used in the centrifuge-based enrichment process to generate nuclear fuel for the main Iranian research center at Natanz, and initial reports suggested that Hassanpour had died of “gas poisoning,” though the Iranian authorities did not hint of any unusual circumstances or foul play. Hassanpour’s death was first reported without additional comment by Prague-based Radio Farda, which broadcasts in Farsi into Iran and is funded by the U.S. Department of State. It was subsequently reported by the U.S.-based private information service Stratfor, which has close ties to Israeli intelligence and suggested that the Mossad was possibly involved. The story was then picked up and further relayed by Rupert Murdoch’s Times of London, which has often served as an outlet for Israeli disinformation and has also been reporting very alarming but usually erroneous information about Iran. Several U.S. intelligence sources believe that the Israelis have only limited intelligence capabilities inside Iran and that the story of Hassanpour’s assassination is, in fact, a fabrication produced by Mossad to frighten Iranian scientists working on Iran’s nuclear program, making them worry that they might be assassinated next. Hassanpour is certainly dead, but he most likely died in an accident, not because he was targeted and killed.
Philip Giraldi, a former CIA Officer, is a partner in Cannistraro Associates, an international security consultancy.