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The two assassins arrived from nowhere as their victim was driving home with his wife. Trapped inside his car, he was hopelessly vulnerable as their motorcycles pulled alongside. He would just have had time to notice their blacked-out visors before they opened fire, emptying round after round into his chest. Nuclear scientist Darioush Rezaei died immediately. His wife was critically wounded and still in hospital days after the attack in north eastern Iran. The hitmen? They vanished into the traffic fumes of the night. This is a story of ruthless men playing for the highest stakes imaginable. Of secret agents from Israel’s intelligence service Mossad who will stop at nothing to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Should Iran succeed, Israel would be desperately vulnerable to attack — not least because Iran’s President Ahmadinejad has repeatedly threatened to erase the ‘Zionist entity’ from the map
Rezaei was assassinated because he was an expert on neutron transport, one of the key processes in making nuclear weapons. He joins a long list of Iranian nuclear scientists and engineers who are being systematically targeted by killers apparently dispatched by the Israeli intelligence agency. While it is unlikely Mossad would send its own assassins into such a high-risk environment, they will have recruited locals and given them intensive training. Last November, two senior Iranian scientists were attacked in different parts of the capital. Both victims were driving to work when men on motorbikes attached magnetised bombs to their cars as they were stuck in traffic. These small explosives are known as ‘shaped charges’, designed to focus the blast at its target as a stream of molten metal travelling at 29,000 miles per hour. One bomb killed nuclear engineer Majid Shahriari, while missing his wife in the passenger seat.