Even before news of the latest assassination, it has become clear that a combination of sanctions and targeted assassinations is taking a toll on Iranian nuclear scientists. As my colleague Ali Alfoneh pointed out in his “Iran News Round Up” from this past Monday:
Fereydoun Abbasi, Iran Atomic Energy Organization director, said a number of Iranian nuclear scientists are not willing to contribute to Iran’s nuclear program. According to Abbasi, the scientists are eager to “preserve their international contacts.” He likened them, however, to “deserters” during the Iran-Iraq.
The latest assassination suggests, however, that preservation of their relationship with foreign scientists is probably not top among the Iranian nuclear scientists’ concerns. Indeed, Abbasi probably understood that, but cannot admit it so directly.