Does Iran have any nuclear capabilities

Can the nuclear deal with Iran be saved after the attack?

"Another well-known scientist will soon take the empty seat of Fachrisadeh. The Defense Ministry has hundreds of such scientists," tweeted journalist Hossein Dalirian just a day after the nuclear scientist was murdered. Dalirian is close to security circles.

Mohsen Fachrisadeh, one of the most important scientists for the Iranian nuclear program, was shot dead in his car last Friday near the capital Tehran.

A bitter and demoralizing defeat for the Iranian security forces, who had placed the nuclear scientist under special protection. Most recently, Fachrisadeh headed the Department of Research and Innovation in the Ministry of Defense.

He is the sixth nuclear scientist to have been assassinated in Iran in the past twelve years. "His assassination will neither stop nor impair the progress of the Iranian civil nuclear program," assured Iranian nuclear chief Ali-Akbar Salehi. "Fachrisadeh's path will now be continued even more intensely."

"Central Figure"

The scientist was an expert in the manufacture of rockets. For decades, he is said to have been at the center of Iran's secret military nuclear program. "According to reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran discontinued this nuclear weapons program more than a decade ago," wrote Oliver Meier from the Hamburg Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy when asked by Deutsche Welle.

Oliver Meier from the Hamburg Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy

"Should Tehran reverse this decision and resume its nuclear weapons program, the death of Fachrisadeh would certainly be an obstacle. He was a central figure in Iran's nuclear weapons program at the time."

Fachrisadeh is said to have headed the military nuclear program under the name "Amad" ("Hope") in the early 2000s. His importance for the Iranian nuclear program lay in his knowledge: According to Western observers, he was probably the person with the most expert knowledge of nuclear weapons in Iran. The 2015 nuclear agreement was rejected by hardliners from the US and Israel, among other reasons, because it did not remove Iran's existing know-how about the development of nuclear weapons. It could be reactivated at any time as soon as the restrictions of the agreement are removed or Iran overrides them, so the fear.

Iran's metered violations "no big steps"

Although the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed on several occasions that Iran adhered to the strict conditions of the agreement, US President Donald Trump unilaterally terminated the nuclear agreement in May 2018 and began his "maximum pressure" campaign on Tehran.

Iran waited a year to see to what extent the other contracting parties could deliver the promised economic relief despite the US exit. When it turned out that they too could not escape the pressure of the extraterritorial US sanctions, Iran began a year later with its previously announced violations of the nuclear agreement.

The country now has twelve times the amount of enriched uranium allowed in the nuclear agreement. Iran has also violated the requirements for the degree of enrichment: Since July 2019, it has been 4.5 percent compared to the permitted 3.69 percent.

Oliver Thränert heads the think tank at the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zurich

"These are violations of the nuclear agreement that bring Iran a little closer to the bomb. But they are not yet big steps," writes disarmament expert Oliver Thränert. Head of the think tank at the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zurich at the request of Deutsche Welle: "Iran has the technical prerequisites to produce more and more highly enriched uranium in a relatively short time, so that the production of a nuclear weapon would be possible in a few months . "

But Iran would not have reached its goal with the manufacture of a bomb. He would also need a carrier system. Security expert Thränert points out that Iran has dealt intensively with at least one, but possibly even several warhead designs.

"These have also been tested, probably without the use of fissile material. It can therefore be assumed that Iran would have the ability to place a nuclear warhead on a missile. However, whether it would survive re-entry into the earth's atmosphere is uncertain," says Tears.

Diplomatic endeavors at risk

The fatal assassination attempt on Fachrisadeh has more symbolic than concrete meaning in relation to the Iranian nuclear program. The Economist quotes Eric Brewer from the Washington Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) with this assessment. The aim was presumably to deter Iran from possible future activities to develop nuclear weapons, and not to prevent current projects.

Even the American security expert Mark Fitzpatrick does not have any current Iranian plans or activities as the reason for the attack. On the day of the attack, Fitzpatrick tweeted about the plans of US President-elect Biden to return to the nuclear deal: "The aim of the Fachrisadeh attack was not to throw back Iran's military capabilities, but diplomacy."

Such actions are counterproductive, writes Meier from the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the request of Deutsche Welle, "because they strengthen those (in Iran) domestically who advocate their own nuclear deterrent capabilities and lead to existing capabilities for developing nuclear weapons being better distributed and better This means that the opportunities to exert external influence on such programs also decrease. "