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Slain Iranian scientist Fakhrizadeh asked to produce ‘five warheads’: Israeli report

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The recently assassinated Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was recorded saying he had been asked to produce “five warheads” for the Islamic Republic of Iran, according to reports by the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth quoted in the Times of Israel.

The recording was reportedly acquired by Israel’s former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert after Israeli intelligence recruited an Iranian official close to Fakhrizadeh, according to the Times of Israel citing the Yedioth report.

The report added that Olmert apparently played the recording to then US President George W. Bush in 2008 as part of Israel’s efforts to convince his administration of the dangers of Iran’s nuclear program.

US President George W. Bush (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (L) laugh during a tour to the ancient hilltop fortress of Masada on May 15, 2008. (AFP)
US President George W. Bush (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (L) laugh during a tour to the ancient hilltop fortress of Masada on May 15, 2008. (AFP)

According to the Times of Israel, Yedioth cited several unnamed Israeli and Middle Eastern intelligence officials on top of recollections from Ehud Barak, another Israeli former prime minister who was Olmert’s defense minister in 2008.

The paper told how Olmert considered the recording “top-secret” due to its source and insisted that President Bush’s adviser Stephen Hadley left the room before playing it.

According to the report, Olmert told Bush: “I’m going to play you something, but I ask that you not talk about it with anyone, not even with the director of the CIA,” before playing a recording of a man speaking Persian.

“The man speaking here is Mohsen Fakhrizadeh,” Olmert reportedly told Bush. “Fakhrizadeh is the head of the “AMAD” program, Iran’s secret military nuclear project. The one it denies exists at all.”

A man who Olmert said was Fakhrizadeh was then heard saying – in an apparent reference to what the Times of Israel called “his superiors” – that “they want five warheads.” He then reportedly said “they aren’t letting me work.” The Times of Israel noted that Yedioth did not quote the word “nuclear” directly.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu uses a chart as he speaks about the Iranian nuclear program at the UN General Assembly. (AFP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu uses a chart as he speaks about the Iranian nuclear program at the UN General Assembly. (AFP)

Fakhrizadeh and Iran’s nuclear program

Israel has long accused Fakhrizadeh of leading Iran’s efforts to develop a nuclear weapon program, which it denies.

In 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israeli intelligence had acquired extensive data from Iran’s nuclear program that showed its ambitions to develop nuclear weapons and implicated Fakhrizadeh.

“Remember that name, Fakhrizadeh,” he said in a press conference at the time.

The man dubbed “the father of Iran’s nuclear program” was a brigadier general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and a physics professor at the Imam Hussein University.

Fakhrizadeh headed the country’s AMAD Project, which was aimed at developing a nuclear device – while Iranian officials say the program is now closed, Israel and others say it is still ongoing in secret. He later founded Iran’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND).

Fakhrizadeh was shot dead on the outskirts of Tehran on November 27. Iran has accused Israel of being behind the assassination and threatened revenge attacks.

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