Iran state media has made bombshell sensational claims of a conspiracy assassination of the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), whose death was reported early this week, prompting a firm denial from the powerful UN nuclear watchdog body.
On Wednesday semi-official Tasnim news agency claimed Israeli intelligence "eliminated" Yukiya Amano, who was the Director General of the IAEA and oversaw the singing of the landmark 2015 P5+1 nuclear deal (JCPOA). Iranian sources allege the covert assassination was carried out on the powerful staunch supporter of the JCPOA in order to gain leverage to force Tehran into dealing with the Trump White House's “pressure-talks” scheme, as Tasnim put it.
The 72-year old Amano, who was also a career Japanese diplomat, was considered a huge influence in seeing the Iranian nuclear deal through and ensuring its continued survival over and against recent Trump administration pressure. Trump had famously called the 2015 agreement brokered by the Obama administration "the worst deal ever negotiated" before ordering the unilateral US pullout.
The UN nuclear watchdog chief died on July 18, with the family only disclosing his passing on late Sunday, but no details as to the cause of death were given; however, a UN statement said he was due to step down next March due to an unspecified illness. Meanwhile Iran provided zero evidence for its wild accusation, nor did the report suggest exactly how the alleged Israeli intelligence plot was carried out.
The Iranian allegation made waves inside Israel and at the IAEA Wednesday, as the Times of Israel reports:
The Tehran-based outlet, which defines its mission as “defending the Islamic Revolution against negative media propaganda campaign [sic],” cited unnamed “informed sources” who insisted that Amano, a Japanese diplomat who was extensively involved in negotiations over Iran’s controversial nuclear program, had been “eliminated” after refusing to buckle to “heavy pressure” from Jerusalem and Washington.
This prompted a firm denial from the IAEA, which told The Times of Israel: “[We] categorically deny these false reports. Director General Yukiya Amano passed away on 18 July as a result of his illness.”
The Tasnim report alleged further: “There is evidence that the Trump administration and the Israeli regime were constantly pressuring the Japanese diplomat to accuse Iran of violation of the 2015 nuclear deal.” The semi-official state outlet said Amano refused “to open a false case against Iran on the nuclear issue,” according to Tasnim's sources.
The Times of Israel report indicated his likely cause of death as follows: "Two European diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had cancer."
Also on Wednesday Iran again rejected the prospect of new negotiations with the White House "under any circumstances," according to an interview with Supreme Leader Ayotallah Ali Khamenei’s Military Adviser Hossein Dehghan, cited in Al Jazeera.