Iran,  Israel

Another nuclear scientist assassinated in Iran

The assassination of yet another nuclear scientist in Iran is one of the relatively few actions of which Israel has been accused, for which it is reasonable to suspect Israel is actually responsible.

Assuming Israeli involvement, Jeffrey Goldberg wonders about the value of such assassinations. He raises the following questions:

… Does Israel, or whoever is assassinating Iranian scientists, believe that these killings will actually slow-down Iranian nuclear development? In other words, do the people behind the assassinations believe that Iranian nuclear knowledge is so concentrated in the minds of a few scientists that a limited series of assassinations can cripple the program? This doesn’t seem likely, obviously.

… Is the goal of the assassination program to convince Iranians nuclear scientists to seek other lines of work? This is also plausible, but not likely to work: I think the regime would take the Tony Soprano approach — you can’t resign from the Mafia — and tell frightened scientists to get back to work, or suffer the consequences, or have their families suffer the consequences.

I’m not sure I buy this these suppositions. It’s entirely possible that Iran’s key nuclear know-how is in fact concentrated among a relatively small group of scientists. And if I were an Iranian nuclear scientist, I would now be spending more time worrying about being blown up than I would about trying to find more effective ways to produce weapons-grade uranium– regardless of threats from the regime.

Goldberg raises other questions for which he doesn’t have an answer, and neither do I.

… Why is Iran so incompetent at protecting its nuclear scientists? This is a perplexing issue.

… Why is the Mossad, assuming this is the Mossad, so deft at assassinating people in Tehran? It’s a very hard target, Iran, and the Mossad has on more than one occasion bungled assassinations in terrible ways (the attempted killing of the Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Jordan is only one case in point).

Assuming it is the Mossad, their ability to operate like this in the heart of an enemy country is impressive, to say the least.