A special unit for providing nuclear scientists, their homes and families with the same level of security as heads of the regime is being set up jointly by Iran's Intelligence Ministry (MOIS), Revolutionary Guards and Al Qods Brigades, debkafile's intelligence sources report. This decision came out of the non-stop conferences Iran's leaders have been holding since Monday, Nov. 29, when two top nuclear physicists were blown up in their cars by "sticky bombs" in the heart of Tehran. Prof. Majid Shahriari died on the spot; Prof. Fereydoun Abbasi was critically injured. Both their wives were wounded.
Prof. Shahriari, the senior computer code specialist of Iran's nuclear program, headed the war on the Stuxnet virus which has disabled parts of that program, while Prof. Abbasi, his superior in rank, was the director of centrifuges at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant .
Iran's rulers were appalled by the ease with which two-man teams mounted on two motorcycles were able to overcome the traffic jams at the heart of Tehran and escape after separate attacks on the professors' cars. It was obvious that the scientists had been under close hostile surveillance for months without attracting the notice of any Iranian intelligence body.
Two more glaring security lapses became evident:
1. The sticky bombs used by the assassins were of Iranian manufacture. Al Qods Brigades arms designers had developed them for Al Qaeda's use in its terrorist attacks in Iraq. Bomb fragments found in the two cars led investigators to the discovery that the bombs Al Qods had smuggled into Iraq had been shipped back to Tehran in a clandestine "boomerang" operation set up by the party which orchestrated the attacks on the scientists.
2. Prof. Shariari's home address had been traced – even though last March he and his family had been spirited out of their usual home and relocated at a safe house in an estate under the protection of the unit guarding nuclear sites and its directors.
MOIS Minister Heydar Moslehi suggested that deep penetration of that unit may have give enemy agents his secret address.
Chairman of Iran's Atomic Energy Comission Ali Akhbar Salehi reported to the ongoing conference in Tehran on the panic overtaking the program's scientific, technical and administration staff since the two professors were attacked. The staff are asking why they were still not better protected eleven months after another nuclear scientist, Prof. Massoud Ali Mohammadi was murdered by an unknown hand. Many are looking for new jobs.
The decision to establish a new unit with upgraded security arrangements for the nuclear program's staff and their families was taken to halt this stampede for exits. The directors of current security arrangements
will all be sacked. Moslehi, Revolutionary Guards chief Gen. ali Jafari and Al Qods commander Gen. Qassem Suleimani will take charge of the new appointments and measures.
Until the new unit is in place, the details guarding government and military VIPs will stand guard over the program's staff. Top scientists are to be provided with armored-plated vehicles able to withstand sticky bombs and RPG.
The security shakeup first disclosed here by debkafile was roughly outlined by Salehi over the weekend: "We have been pursuing serious protective measures for hundreds of our scientists and experts since last year," he said, "and, based on the recent decision, we are to increase protection measures multi-fold and take other steps as well."