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Israel & the high mortality rate of Iranian nuclear scientists - a different view.
rusdialog
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.

-B.
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