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Israel & the high mortality rate of Iranian nuclear scientists - a different view.
This post by our guest blogger, MAJ Randi Buros USA (Ret.)

Avner Cohen wrote an interesting piece at Haaretz.com yesterday titled "What if the Iranians start killing scientists?"

I admit being drawn to the article because it was my first thought when the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mustafa Ahn Roshan last week.  I have a former colleague with a Ph.D. in Physics from Berkely who fits the profile--he's a highly successful scientist conducting research for the U.S. government (he received a 5 yeargrant from President Obama to conduct nanotechnology research for the DoD).  But like many research scientists he also has teaches--chemistry at Cornell.

My initial concern was "what if he were targeted on campus?"  What about the possibility of collateral damage?

A second, yet more important thought was whether or not this should be considered terrorism? Traditional definitions of terrorism center on violence as a form of political theater targeting noncombatants (primarily civilians) in order to promote a particular policy.  This scientist may arguably not be a civilian, but is unarguably a noncombatant.  With Israel following its opaque nuclear policy with an opaque scientists-as-valid-targets policy I'm concerned with the potential fall-out.

I can't help but wonder when Israel will realize they have come to the crossroads.  They seem to me to be deluding themselves with the idea they are following a hard core realist foreign policy, but where would they be without the U.S. providing technology sales and P5 protections?

Mr. Cohen raises a practical point as well--what real impact does the killing of one scientist provide?  How can the loss of one person derail a national effort?  Doesn't it in fact actually spur them on? So other than making a security conscious country feel good, isn't such an act more damaging than beneficial?  I just can't see the short or long term gains from this operation.