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5 Russian Nuclear Experts Aiding Iran Die In Plane Crash

5 Russian Nuclear Experts Aiding Iran Die In Plane Crash

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.

Let the conspiracy theories and speculation begin.


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Given the notoriously poor maintenance of Russian planes and the recurring reports of drunk pilots, I’m willing to bet the simplest explanation is the best: anyone flying a Russian airline takes their life in their hands.

    William A. Jacobson in reply to Phineas Fahrquar. | June 23, 2011 at 11:28 am

    No joke, when I traveled in the Soviet Union in 1980 I went to Central Asia via a smallish Aeroflot prop plane, and they allowed goats on the plane.

Seemingly has a familiar ring to it if you think back to Gerald Bull and his collaboration with the Iraqi government. Perhaps one should be more prudent when considering business ventures.

If memory serves, I believe this is the same aircraft type that the late Polish President and most of his cabinet went down in, while attempting to land in Russian territory.

Could be crappy Soviet-ski style equipment (the Russians are notorious for their mechanical death-traps), or it could have been planned, perhaps by the Mossad, or even the Russians themselves.

Whatever the truth, you can count on Putin and company to bury it. Russians are nuts.

Question (Quote): “would the Israelis sabotage an entire passenger plane to get at five key Russian nuclear experts involved in the Iranian nuclear program?”

Answer: Yes. Being able to take out five top-level nuclear experts who are aiding a country committed to their destruction at once, and being able to make it look like an accident (making the assumption that it wasn’t), I think that the Israelis would have sabotaged that plane without a second thought.

In all seriousness, this is something of the size and scale that the Mossad would do if they had the information and given the opportunity to act. It has reasonably small collateral damage but cripples Iran (and severely damages Russia, for that matter). The Mossad will take the occasional “greater good” action where some innocents will be killed, in order to safeguard their nation. If it had just been ONE scientist, probably not. But FIVE (and possibly support staff we don’t know about yet) on ONE plane? They would take an action like this without reservation.

However, if it WAS the Mossad, then whoever put the operation together left an awful lot to chance given that there were 7 survivors, or the survivors who lived through the crash were incredibly lucky.

Q: Could Israel sabotage an entire Russian aircraft to kill 5 Russians who have been assisting Iran to get The Bomb?
A: Yes

Q: Did they?
A: Who knows. But probably not, Russian aircraft appear to be self-sabotaging….

It would be senseless to implicate a particular state when most western nations have much to lose in the event Iran gains weaponized nuclear capability. Besides, what if one of the Russian scientists was involved with the implementation of the Stuxnet virus and the Iranians found out.

Chuck Skinner “Would the Israelis sabotage an entire passenger plane to get at five key Russian nuclear experts? Yes. Without a second thought.”

Please give evidence that the Mossad operates this way.

Hi pst314 – Like any good intelligence agency, the amount of hard data that the Mossad operates this way is limited. However, there is quite a bit of circumstantial “leakage” that the Mossad has previously been involved in operations of this nature.

The actual full name of the Mossad is “Ha Mossad le Modiin ule Tafkidim Meyuhadum” which translates as the Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks. It is the Israeli equivalent of the British SIS and deals with most of the covert operations undertaken by Israel. There are 8 divisions, some of which are … obscure. Most of what I’ll be discussing below is part of the Metsada (Special Operations Division), which conducts highly sensitive assassination, sabotage, paramilitary, and psychological warfare projects.

Some operations that are known of:

Lillehammer, Norway in 1973, were an Avenger team team not only killed the wrong man (Ahmed Bouchiki, a waiter, was mistaken for Ali Hassan Salameh, one of the leaders of Black September), but was captured in the process in response to the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre.

The killing of Zaiad Muchasi by an explosion in his Athens hotel room in 1973.

An attempt to kill and decapitate the head of the PLO Khalil Ibrahim al-Wazir (aka Abu Jihad) in Tunis which failed (year unknown). Later Al-Wazir was assassinated at close range in his home in Tunis at 2 a.m. UTC on April 16, 1988

Operation Jonathan, (hostage rescue in Entebbe), 4th July 1976.Israeli operatives attempted to rescue more than a hundred hostages detained by President Idi Amin of Uganda, after they had been hijacked by Palestinian terrorists.

Operation Eichmann, where Otto Adolf Eichmann (Nazi war criminal) was tracked down to Buenos Aires (an Israeli-Friendly nation) and fearing that he would escape extradition by fleeing to Peru or Uruguay a Mossad team kidnapped him, checked his identity medically and flew him to Israel where he was tried and hanged in 1962.

The targeted killing of Ali Hassan Salameh, the leader of Black September, on January 22, 1979 in Beirut by a car bomb.

In reference to the Osiris and Isis Iraqi nuclear facilities, prior to Construction, A Mossad team blew up reactor parts in the factory in France setting Iraq’s nuclear program back by two years. In 1980 a Mossad hit team is presumed to have killed Professor Yahia El-Meshad (found dead in his Paris apartment) who was a leading nuclear physicist who had just agree to work for Iraq.

1980, two Phantom jets disguised as Iranian planes but presumed to actually be Israeli attacked a nuclear research center near Baghdad.

Operation Opera, the 1981 bombing run on the completed Osiris reactor in Iraq. A Mossad agent had placed a homing device near the reactor allowing the planes to hit the reactor VERY precisely, doing maximum damage but producing no fallout.

In 1991 Alan Kidger (marketing director of Thor Chemicals, Johannesburg), thought by South African police to have been murdered by the Israelis because he was selling chemicals for the manufacture of nuclear weapons to Arab states.

Also in 1991,Dr Gerald Bull, an expert in artillery, was executed in England for working on the Iraqi ‘Supergun’ to deliver nuclear, biological or chemical weapons into Israel and beyond via an artillery shell.

More recently:

The Mossad discovered Iran’s alleged covert nuclear program before it officially became known, and conducted espionage operations against nuclear facilities in the country. Dr. Ardeshir Hosseinpour, a scientist involved in the Iranian nuclear program, was killed by the Mossad on January 15, 2007.

Le Figaro (French Daily Newspaper) claimed that the Mossad was possibly behind a blast at the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Imam Ali military base, on 12 October 2010. The explosion at the base killed 18 and injured 10 others. The base is believed to store long-range missiles, including the Shahab-3, and also has hangars. It is one of Iran’s most secure military bases.

January 12, 2010 – Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, 50, a physics professor at Tehran University, who represented Iran on the SESAME project. It is presumed that Ali-Mohammadi was using knowledge gained from the SESAME (Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East) project somehow to further Iranian knowledge of refining Uranium, but I don’t know enough about the science to know how.

Ali-Mohammadi was killed as he left his house in north Tehran. A booby-trapped motorcycle exploded, shattering windows in nearby buildings.

November 29, 2010, explosions, which took place near Shahid Beheshti University, are the latest in a string of recent assassination attempts in which five doctors and professors have been killed in Tehran. There is some debate about whether this was a car bomb attack or a ride-by shooting by motorcyclists (because the cars in the photos are riddled with bullet holes, and don’t show any of the classic “car bomb” damage, and there usually aren’t “survivors” of a car bomb, no matter how small). The official story is Majid Shahriari (a nuclear scientist) and Fereydoun Abbasi (high-ranking Defense Ministry official and scientist) were parking their cars in separate locations near the university campus about 7:45 a.m. local time when they were attacked. Witnesses said each car was approached by a group of men on motorcycles, who attached explosives to the vehicles and detonated them seconds later, the news agency reported. Shahriari was killed instantly. Abbasi was wounded. Both men were with their wives, who were wounded as well.

Long story short: Intelligence operations can be ugly, and sometimes there’s collateral damage (i.e. innocent people get killed). As I said previously, the Israelis are VERY good at operations, and they are willing to make the hard calls in what they think is the Israeli national interest. Taking out a plane is something we haven’t seen before, but the calculus works in this instance due to the high-value of the targets.

It doesn’t matter if the Israelis were behind this or not, they will be blamed. So who cares. But be certain of this: if they had been behind it, they would have made sure that it crashed into one of the plants enriching uranium or the Iranian parliament while they were in full session and that the plane was loaded with explosives.

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Chuck Skinner: You give lots of examples of operations in which the Mossad killed terrorists and people helping Israel’s enemies, but you do not show that the Mossad is indifferent to the killing of innocent bystanders.

Hi again pst314 – Sorry, perhaps I was less than clear. Let me try to clarify:

I don’t think that the Mossad is -indifferent- to the killing of innocent bystanders.

What I DO think is that the Mossad understands greater-good arguments; that sometimes innocent bystanders MAY or WILL be killed, and that sometimes the benefit in the Israeli national interest of taking out a particular terror or national threat is sufficiently great to justify a particular action which MAY or WILL cause collateral damage, either in terms of innocent bystanders, less than innocent bystanders [non-combatant terrorist supporters or family] and/or unaffiliated infrastructure.

The Mossad is -USUALLY- very good at minimizing collateral damage, which is why you don’t hear about most of their wetworks operations. But sometimes the benefit is great enough that it justifies a regrettable, but limited, potential loss of innocent bystanders lives.