While there has been plenty of speculation that Israel has been assassinating Iranians involved in Iran’s nuclear program, and sabotaging the program through Stuxnet and other means, would the Israelis sabotage an entire passenger plane to get at five key Russian nuclear experts involved in the Iranian nuclear program? Via Haaretz:
The five nuclear experts killed in a plane crash in northern Russia earlier this week had assisted in the design of an Iranian atomic facility, security sources in Russia said on Thursday.
The five Russian experts were among the 44 passengers killed when the Tupolev-134 plane broke up and caught fire on landing outside the northern city of Petrozavodsk on Monday….
According to the sources, although Iranian nuclear scientists have in the past been involved in unexplained accidents and plane crashes, there is no official suspicion of foul play. Investigators are investigating human error and technical malfunction as the causes of the crash.
Regardless of cause, this appears to be a grievous blow both to the Russian nuclear industry and to Iran’s hopes for the Bushehr nuclear plant. Via DEBKAfile (citing three experts as having died):
The three Russian nuclear scientists who planned, designed, built and put into operation Iran’s first nuclear reactor at Bushehr this year, died Tuesday night, June 20, when a Rusaero flight from Moscow to Petrozavodsk in northwest Russia crashed.
debkafile’s sources reveal that they were among the 44 passengers who were killed.
Their loss is a severe blow to Russia’s atomic reactor industry as well as its nuclear program as a whole, since the three, Sergey Ryzhov, Gennady Banuyk and Nikolay Trunov, specialized in running installations in tandem and synchronizing various systems.
The Russian company OKB Gidropress, Moscow, which employed them as chief planners of nuclear plants, is proud of having sold reactors to five countries including Iran.
The authorities have ordered an investigation to find out why all three senior nuclear scientists were aboard the same airliner in violation of Russian security regulations which prohibit more than one high-ranking politician, military figure or executive of a sensitive industry taking the same flight.
The cause of the Tu-134’s crash is also being probed – although it has a notoriously high accident rate and should not have been used by the three scientists. The eight passengers who survived, who are in critical condition, are to be quizzed to find out what happened aboard the plane before it crashed.
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