The Renewed Sorrow of the Sister of an Assassinated Iranian Nuclear Scientist
My heart’s been set alight today.
There are things my mind just needs to say*.
A recent tweet by journalist Amir Taheri on May 1st, 2020 indicated the following:
The Bushehr nuclear power plant has four problems:
- An archaic technology from the Soviet Union which does not even exist anymore.
- Employees familiar with this plant have retired years ago, while the new employees are not familiar with the archaic equipment.
- The electricity produced is too expensive, most expensive in history.
- This plant has been damaged many times over.
It was the winter of 2004. Like every other morning, my husband told my regular driver to drive carefully as he saw me off on my way to work. We waved at each other until we were out of sight. The Assalouyeh road passed by villages which were losing their short lived green season as I watched them go by from the rear seat of the car with a book in my hand, waiting for my mother’s early morning phone call. As usual, my phone rang just before the Taheri Port turn, where we would lose cell phone reception all the way to my destination. “Are you on your way to work? Momma asked … Yes, Ardeshir has arrived in Bushehr … He has been invited for an inspection tour of the power plant … He is accompanied by a team from Shiraz University … He will be back today … Don’t worry …”. I could tell from the coarseness in her voice however, that she was indeed worried. I was nervous too. I could feel my nostrils burning, my eyes stinging and my heart beating strangely.
My brother Ardeshir Hosseinpour was the distinguished professor of nuclear physics at the Shiraz University’s school of engineering and a specialist in Uranium enrichment. Not only his family, but both friend or foe, knew about his scientific obsession, his detail-oriented mind and his work ethics. His amazing bluntness and his frightening courage, together with his admirable skill to control inefficient and corrupt processes presented him with challenges as well as enmities, and now he was facing another unknown and sensitive situation in his young life.
About twenty days later, there was a second tour of the nuclear plant. Before long, we as Dr. Ardeshir Hosseinpour’s family members who had no expertise in nuclear science, began hearing from him directly that this power plant was indeed an expensive piece of junk which the Russians had thrown at the Iranian authorities.
Within less than two years, the news of the killing of Dr. Ardeshir Hosseinpour, the nuclear physics scientist and once the youngest assistant professor in Iranian universities was disseminated among the Iranian academia and on various web sites, first as a suspicious death, then as a terrorist assassination by the Israelis, and finally explained in six different scenarios. This was the fate of the only son of a family, at the height of his accomplishments both in his personal life and in his scientific endeavors and honors.
In addition to his ridicule of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, Ardeshir had also refused to work for the 20% uranium enrichment project, which could not have had a punishment other than death.
Today, fourteen difficult years have passed since that tragic event, and as the eldest child of the hapless family whose mother has also joined her departed son, bequeathing to me to seek justice and to uncover the secrets of this crime, I am a refugee in the world, still wondering why the tides of all the blood of all the victims of this tyranny have not yet been able to uproot it.
I keep reviewing the memories, the scenes, the unjustly spilled blood and the people involved, and I intend to stop the wheel which refused to turn for all the deserving and the honorable in this land, from turning at all.
The recent tweet by the veteran journalist, Amir Taheri, about the inefficiency and the impracticability of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, once again brought back the crushing memories of that winter in 2004 when I talked to my worried mother while travelling along the road to Assalouyeh.
Here, I would like to quote one of the team members present at the tour of the nuclear plant sixteen years ago, who confided in me before I left Iran. This will confirm my brother’s opposition to the construction of the Bushehr nuclear plant and describes how it brought him a step closer to death:
“At around noon, the tour had ended, and we were walking towards the SUVs which were going to take us back. Dr. (Ardeshir Hosseinpour) was at the center of this crowd of about 30 people including the scientific delegates of the universities, military commanders and a few drivers. As he walked, he would turn to his left and right, answering questions. Most of the questions were directed at him because both during the first tour and this second one, he had openly and in detail, pointed out the problems of the plant and its non-compliance with the national interests of the country. Now, there were some who wanted to hear his views once again before boarding the vehicles. Ardeshir stopped as the others stood in a half circle around him. He was speaking with excitement and gesturing with his hands to emphasize his points.
Suddenly, the Revolutionary Guard commander of the IRGC Navy, Ghassemi, (whose first name I cannot recall- M.H) cut in and spoke against Ardeshir’s scientific arguments. Ardeshir approached him like a young leopard, looked straight into his eyes, put his index finger right on the button on commander Ghassemi’s chest and said: You are not scientifically qualified to say anything here, and even you’re not deserving of your present position. Times of ocean
There was an eery silence and no one dared to even look at the person next to himself. Without any further talking everyone approached their assigned SUVs and got inside … I was shaken as I said to myself that Ardeshir had signed his own death warrant …”
That blood which was unjustly spilled,
Cries for hanging of him who killed *.
*Quotes from the brilliant poet Hooshang Ebtehaj who nevertheless espoused an evil ideology in our contemporary history.
By Mahboubeh Mehr-Ardeshir (Hosseinpour)