There is a story - just now starting to "snowball" on the web. (Oooh-ooh-ooh ! Oh. Never mind !)
"Intelligence source says Mossad agents assassinated 44 year old Iranian nuclear physicist Ardeshire Hassenpour to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons." So says The Times (UK) Online-followed by Fox News.
Wow ! I wonder who their intelligence source was ?
A little quick research suggests the story was copied - virtually word-for-word from a World Net Daily story - which quotes STRATFOR as its source. The realationship between World Net Daily (WND) and STRATFOR might best be summarized by this quotation from WND.
"Editor's note: In partnership with STRATFOR, the global intelligence company, WorldNetDaily publishes daily updates on international affairs provided by the respected private research and analysis firm. Look for fresh updates each afternoon, Monday through Friday. In addition, WorldNetDaily invites you to consider STRATFOR membership, entitling you to a wealth of international intelligence reports usually available only to top executives, scholars, academic institutions and press agencies. "
I don't want to sound picky, but so far, have not seen anything from WND or STRATFOR I would care to lay out good money for; so I decided to do my own homework.
I learned the Iranian government announced the Dr. Hassenpour's death on January 21,2007 - some 6 days after his death. The Iranians note the death was apparently caused by "gas poisoning".
Dr. Hassenpour, the Iranians say, had been working at a plant in Isfahan-where Uranium Hexaflouride is manufactured (for use in the Natanz enrichment facility).
Uranium Hexaflouride is very nasty stuff : inhale/ingest the slightest amount,and the moisture in your body will convert it to Flourine: an element that makes Chlorine look positively beneficial. One can just about promise a prolonged and hideously agonizing death .
If one is working in a Mullah-driven "crash program" , the dangers of working with such materials are multiplied. (For example, during Stalin's drive to produce a workable atomic bomb, it is said thousands of low-ranking workers "gave" their lives.)
Setting that aside for the moment, I find myself wondering how Mossad could manage to get through the intense security screen surrounding anyone involved in Iran's enrichment program. It is possible - just - but things seldom work out like that in real life for any intelligence agency !
So: much as Mossad might enjoy the publicity, I suspect this story - like so many others I've seen - belongs in the trash basket !
ps: I wonder if "the world's leading private intelligence firm" would care to calculate the effect of stories like this on "the world's largest tinderbox" ?