Fakhrizadeh assassination not justifiable by any theories

TEHRAN, Dec. 02 (MNA) – Richard Falk says the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh cannot be legally, morally, or politically justified by any acceptable theory, and has very negative implications as an international precedent.

Top Iranian nuclear and defence scientist 'Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh', who headed the Iranian Defense Ministry’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (known by its acronym SPND), was targeted on Friday in a multi-pronged attack involving at least one explosion and small fire by a number of assailants in Absard city of Damavand County, Tehran Province.

New York Times quoted intelligence officials as saying that Israel regime was behind the assassination of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

"One American official — along with two other intelligence officials — said that Israel was behind the attack on the scientist," New York Times reported, adding, "It was unclear how much the United States may have known about the operation in advance, but the two nations are the closest of allies and have long shared intelligence regarding Iran."

The assassination of Iranian scientist Fakhrizadeh provoked many reactions in the region and the world but in the meantime, the silence of many human rights defenders in not condemning this assassination is debatable.

In this regard, the Iranian Foreign Minister had condemned the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh and called on the international community not to remain silent in the face of this terrorist act and to abandon double standards and condemn the act of state-sponsored assassination.

The scene where Moshen Fakhrizadeh assassinated on Nov. 27, 2020

To know more about the issue, we reached out to Richard Anderson Falk, American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University.

Following is the text of our interview with him:

Isn't the assassination of the Iranian scientist against international law and norms?

Fakhrizadeh's assassination cannot be legally & politically justified by any acceptable theory and has very negative implications as an international precedentYes, it is a targeted use of international force that cannot be justified by a valid claim of self-defence, which by the UN Charter, requires a prior armed attack. Such an assassination amounts to an unlawful ‘extra-judicial execution,’ which the UN Human Rights Council has condemned. 

In the case of Afghanistan, the US justified drone assassinations in various parts of the world either by an anti-terrorist rationale or by the contention that a hot battlefield has been extended to foreign countries if linked to the combat. Israel has resorted to extra-territorial assassinations since its inception despite frequent condemnations.

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh cannot be legally, morally, or politically justified by any acceptable theory, and has very negative implications as an international precedent.

Many believe the terrorist act has been committed by the Israeli regime. What do you think of this?

I find all forms of state terrorism to be unlawful, amounting to international crimes, and morally indefensible, especially aggravated when directed at civilians.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife step off a plane in Tel Aviv, Nov. 18, 2020

Can such an act by the Israeli regime be done without coordination with Trump?

As such coordination is rarely acknowledged, we can only surmise that it occurs. Given the timing of Pompeo’s visit to Israel prior to the assassination constitutes circumstantial evidence of knowledge before the event, if not active coordination.

Why have the terrors been focused on Iranian nuclear and defensive elites?

Israel, US, and likely Saudi Arabia have been carrying on an unlawful destabilization campaign against Iran for many years, which has intensified during the Trump presidencySuch a focus corresponds with Israel’s security narrative, which seems to have been unconditionally accepted during the Trump presidency. It alleges that Israel’s longer-range security is threatened by Iran’s nuclear program, which it further alleges seeks to gain the capability to produce nuclear weapons, and its immediate security is jeopardized by Iran’s large arsenal of precision-guided missiles. Israel, the US, and likely Saudi Arabia have been carrying on an unlawful destabilization campaign against Iran for many years, which has intensified during the Trump presidency and the Netanyahu leadership in Israel. Israel may feel emboldened by both the Trump support and the normalization agreements with the UAE and Bahrain.

What can be the consequences of such a criminal irresponsible act?

The Iranian choice of diplomacy versus some form of military retaliation will likely shape the future with respect to ‘consequences’ This depends on how Iran chooses to respond, essentially whether it awaits Biden’s inauguration as the US President on January 20th, hoping for a renewal of US participation in the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action (JCPOA)(2015 Agreement on Iran’s Nuclear Program), including the lifting of all sanctions. The Iranian choice of diplomacy versus some form of military retaliation will likely shape the future with respect to ‘consequences.’

There are other uncertainties. (1) will Trump/Netanyahu seek to provoke Iran by further aggressive actions in the interim? (2) will Biden follow the Obama path toward diplomacy or be more guided by a policy that strikes a compromise between Obama’s and Trump’s approach? Such a compromise would extend the 2015 arrangement to cover non-nuclear regional security issues affecting Yemen, Gaza, and Lebanon, and possibly Syria. (3) do the normalization agreements between Israel and several Arab governments create a new regional situation that is different than what existed pre-Trump?

What are the goals behind the act considering the timing?

As the act itself has not been officially acknowledged, commentary on its goals is necessarily speculative. The most reasonable interpretation of goals is to provoke Iran so as to give Israel a pretext for retaliation and possibly draw the US into a combat role, and if this fails, to make a diplomatic accommodation with the Biden presidency more problematic for both sides.

Why haven't European countries condemned the act strongly and somehow they have kept silent?

Europe is hoping mainly for a renewal of its special relationship with the US as soon as Biden takes overEurope has disengaged from active involvement in the region except possibly for France in relation to Lebanon and the East Mediterranean natural gas disputes. Europe is hoping mainly for a renewal of its special relationship with the US as soon as Biden takes over. It does not want to have any distractions from this goal, and it may feel that its future leverage is greater if it pursues equidistance diplomacy that appears not to take sides in this central confrontation between Iran and the Arab/Israel security partnership.

Richard Anderson Falk is the author or coauthor of 20 books and the editor or co-editor of another 20 volumes. In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Falk to a six-year term as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on "the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967."

Interview by Zahra Mirzafarjouyan

News Code 166622

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