Kayyem: Iran scientist assassinations serve no end
Iranians take part in the funeral of assassinated nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, holding his portraits and a poster bearing US President Barak Obama with the Star of David on his forehead, in Tehran on January 13, 2012, two days after he was killed when men on a motorbike slapped a magnetic bomb on his car while it was stuck in Tehran traffic. (Getty Images)
January 17th, 2012
11:00 AM ET

Kayyem: Iran scientist assassinations serve no end

Editor's Note: Juliette Kayyem is a former Assistant Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, a lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government and a foreign policy columnist for the Boston Globe. She tweets @JulietteKayyem.

By Juliette Kayyem

The killing of Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan was just another salvo in more aggressive covert war heating up between Iran and the West.  There should be little doubt the U.S. had nothing to do with it; we have condemned the killings, and rightfully so.  Of all the efforts to stop Iran's nuclear program, killing scientists is not only the least productive, it may actually backfire.

“It is difficult to imagine a country having a scientific infrastructure large enough to support a nuclear weapons program, but too small to sustain a viable effort after the loss of even several individuals,’’ William Tobey, a former nuclear expert who has served in senior positions in the U.S. government, recently wrote in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Even allowing for the fact that atomic scientists have a vested interest in minimizing the significance of atomic scientists to deter assassinations, a few deaths here or there isn’t going to change history.

The ultimate goal of the global community shouldn’t be blocking Iran’s nuclear program for the time being - it should be ending Iran’s urgent desire to create nuclear weapons. That will require a diplomatic solution, not some admittedly masterful killing of a guy with the unimpressive title "deputy director for commercial affairs."

The thinking behind these killings is dangerously simplistic, as if Tehran’s nuclear ambitions were dependent on a single scholar just out of grad school. Nuclear programs, after all, are large and expensive efforts involving hundreds of people. Just maybe, one or two killings could delay the efforts.

Ahmadi-Roshan was likely as expendable to the Iranians as he was to whoever plotted his death. That suggests why Iran seems so incapable of protecting its allegedly high-value scientists. He was, in the end, of no consequence to the real issues at play. His murder should be condemned because it is brutal and gets us no closer to a meaningful resolution of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Any sense of victory is as fleeting as the very men who placed magnetic bombs on the sides of Ahmadi-Roshan’s gray Peugeot 405 as they passed it on a crowded Tehran street just a few days ago.

Read more here.

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Topics: Covert Operations • Iran

soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Hahahahahahahaha

    The two worst (and last) words an Iranian Nuclear Scientist can say: "I quit." Hahahahahahahahahaha

    January 17, 2012 at 11:12 am | Reply
    • Devil worshiping zoinist ha ha ha

      Someone please kill all the zionists in israel – come on WW3 Baby – Let's get it over with!

      Ha ha ha ha ha – and someone please kill Obama and every zionist supporter in Congress.

      Yipppeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

      January 18, 2012 at 4:36 am | Reply
      • Buddy

        How do they know it wasn't a GIRL who was riding the motorcycle hmmmm? I would say yes I have information!

        January 18, 2012 at 8:10 am |
  2. DrEvil

    But they still are fun anyway.

    January 17, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Reply
  3. j. von hettlingen

    Ms Kayyem, aren't you interested to find out who was behind Ahmadi-Roshan's killing? As "expendable" he might have been, the act itself should be seen as an internal threat to Iran.

    January 17, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Reply
  4. 100% ETHIO STRONGER!

    ...It is too much. Iran must stop Bullying America and its allies. Ahmedinajad, keep saying anything he want against America. Not only by long distances, but even after he entered in American Soil. He keep falsely accusing without clear evidences. Does Iran has Evidence Act Laws?

    Ahmadinajad is a Paranoid Person, who seems watching and listening things that is not appeared.
    Where is his proof in Court? He just leaving himself in traps and he is threatening other Countries and its Citizens.

    January 17, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Reply
    • Devil worshiping zoinist ha ha ha

      You're an idiot – I hope you choke on your bagel.

      January 18, 2012 at 4:36 am | Reply
  5. John Luma

    Ahmadi-Roshan was not critical to the success of Iran's urgent interest in building nuclear bomb capability. Considering all the pressure the West has put on Iran to end this nuclear pursuit, considering the usually moderate nature of most of the Iranian people, it is entirely possible Iran's own leaders killed this scientist in order to heighten outrage by the population. It is the perfect crime. No one would suspect them, yet it helps foment badly needed emotional backing of Iran's regime by its citizens against the West.

    January 17, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Reply
  6. Mario Cotez

    "Ahmadi-Roshan was likely as expendable to the Iranians as he was to whoever plotted his death."

    I highly doubt he was expendable to Iranians. Why is it to make a point it, they always have to demonize Iranians? He wasn't expendable Iranians particularly to one Iranian his 2 year old son. This was an act of terror, the planners should be caught and brought to justice.

    January 17, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Reply
  7. Matt

    Why kill Bin Laden then, he was only one man, it would make no difference?

    January 17, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Reply
    • Makenza

      ramtin می‌گه:kha ke to miri taghaloob mnkoii?fek nemikoni yeki az masoline delsooz mesle man biyad va iweblog ro bekhone !va z onjaye ke vojdane karyish , ejaze nemdieh !toro az doore hazf koneh ?motaghaleb:Dage behet .25 nadadammhasaa bidin 😉 =))[] پاسخ در تاريخ آذر ۱۸م, ۱۳۸۸ ۱۹:۰۸:,تو از کجا پیدات شد؟ مردک ۲ ساله اصلاً نمیدونستی همچین وبلاگی اینجا هست،تا من از بیزینس پلن نوشتم اومدی اینجا؟ :-((تو بیخیال شو من باهات حساب میکنم :-D[]

      July 6, 2014 at 2:03 pm | Reply
    • Rian

      shahram nazeri aziz alan dar new york hansatd va baraye albome jadid be tanzime hafez nazeri > bi sabraneh montazere kare jadide ishon hastamaz modi ya modirane goroup khaheshmandam sathe khabariye web ro bala bebarandladAN

      July 21, 2014 at 1:27 pm | Reply
  8. James

    "Kayyem: Iran scientist assassinations serve no end"–Makes no difference to Al Qaeda–They just kill indiscriminately and just for the love of killing people–

    January 17, 2012 at 11:31 pm | Reply
    • Amanda

      مرتضی می‌گه:slmhar kar kardam in nemnooe bp ro begiram ama zaheran linkesh kar nemikone mishe ino vasam email koninnnn[] پاسخ در تاريخ اردیبهشت ۱۶م, ۱۳۹۲ ۲۱:۵۵:هم لینک اصلی و هم کمکی سالمه[]

      July 6, 2014 at 3:18 pm | Reply
    • Sebine

      What a plarsuee to find someone who thinks through the issues

      July 21, 2014 at 1:28 pm | Reply
    • Manuel

      Your article pelfectry shows what I needed to know, thanks!

      July 25, 2014 at 8:20 pm | Reply
  9. T klimchuk

    Maybe this man realized where this was heading and wanted no part of this The gov kills him and to blames Isreal amd the US Whos going to say otherwise

    January 18, 2012 at 5:47 am | Reply
    • George Patton

      Can you prove any of that mumbo-jumbo you posted above? I think not! Of course you want to believe in that fairy tale that the West can do no wrong! Get real, will you? of course it can!!!

      January 18, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Reply
  10. Mike Chuinard

    What about the remote possibility Iran assassinated their own scientist ? This event has helped the regime direct public anger away from growing internal problems, rejuvenated nationalistic fervor of nuclear program, and focused blame on Iran's two most desired targets: Isreal and the US.

    January 18, 2012 at 6:39 am | Reply
  11. George Patton

    Whoever is responsible for this cold blooded muder needs to be brought to justice aling with the country whose leaders ordered it, whether it be the U.S., Great Britain, France or even Israel. This lawlessness cannot stand!!!

    January 18, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Reply
  12. Burst Bubble

    If it is a covert operation, I doubt we will ever know who was behind this murder. Not sure I agree with the author. The history of man is in part that those in power have been willing to assassinate pons. Mike above makes a great point what if the Iran government is just utilize a propaganda ploy to make people believe it was Israeli intelligence or the CIA ? I wish countries could just choose to be peaceful and choose to work together.

    January 19, 2012 at 12:34 am | Reply
  13. IF OBAMA WANTS TO WIN HE MUST ATTACK IRAN NOW

    FUC IRAN FUC IRAQ FUC ALSHE3A AL KELAB FUC AWALD AL MOT3A AL SAFWEEN FUC YOU ALL SHIE3A IDIOTS ....ESHROOG THUGS, MOQTADA AL QATHER , NORI AL HALEKI , BASHAR AL KALB, AL JA3FARI AL MOJREM, AL NJALABI AL HARAMI, ENHEBYA HARAMEYA KEALB KHAWANA RAFEDHA, IRANEEN TERRORISTS, SUPPORT HEZBOLLAH THE TERRORISTS AND THE KILLERS BADER ARMY AND MAHDI ARMY ALL OF YOU ARE CRIMINALS FUC YOU ALL SHIE3A. FUC ALL YOUR FRANKENSTEIN SCIENTISTS

    January 22, 2012 at 12:54 am | Reply

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