Skip to main content
A scary good deal on trusted journalism
Get full digital access to globeandmail.com
$0.99
per week for 24 weeks SAVE OVER $140
OFFER ENDS OCTOBER 31
A scary good deal on trusted journalism
$0.99
per week
for 24 weeks
SAVE OVER $140
OFFER ENDS OCTOBER 31
// //

Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh during a meeting with the Iranian supreme leader in Tehran, on Jan. 23, 2019.

-/AFP/Getty Images

Prominent Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, killed in an attack outside Tehran on Friday, was widely seen outside the country as a leading figure in the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. Iran denies his involvement.

WHAT IS KNOWN ABOUT HIM?

Western officials and experts believe Fakhrizadeh played a pivotal role in suspected Iranian work in the past to develop the means to assemble a nuclear warhead behind the facade of a declared civilian uranium enrichment program.

Iran denies ever having sought to develop a nuclear weapon.

Story continues below advertisement

A landmark report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog in 2011 identified Fakhrizadeh as a central figure in suspected Iranian work to develop technology and skills needed for atomic bombs, and suggested he may still have a role in such activity.

Believed to be a senior officer in the elite Revolutionary Guards, Fakhrizadeh was the only Iranian the report identified.

Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh killed in attack near Tehran, state TV reports

WHAT DOES IRAN SAY?

The U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has long wanted to meet Fakhrizadeh as part of a protracted investigation into whether Iran carried out illicit nuclear weapons research.

Showing no sign it would heed the request, Iran acknowledged Fakhrizadeh’s existence several years ago but said he was an army officer not involved in the nuclear program, according to a diplomatic source with knowledge of the matter.

He was also named in a 2007 U.N. resolution on Iran as a person involved in nuclear or ballistic missile activities.

WHAT IS KNOWN ABOUT HIS BACKGROUND?

An exiled Iranian opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), in May 2011 issued a report with what it said was a photograph of Fakhrizadeh, with dark hair and beard stubble. It was not possible to independently verify the picture.

The NCRI said in the report that Fakhrizadeh was born in 1958 in the holy Shi’ite Muslim city of Qom, was a deputy defense minister and a Revolutionary Guards brigadier-general, and holds a nuclear engineering doctorate and taught at Iran’s University of Imam Hussein.

Story continues below advertisement

The process to turn uranium ore into the radioactive material used in a nuclear reactor or bomb is highly complex. One method, which the Iranians are utilizing, involves hundreds or thousands of centrifuges working in concert to make a gas that is highly enriched in uranium-235. This U-235 isotope is key to nuclear fission.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies