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.
While news is still coming out of Tehran, my colleague Ali Alfoneh has been culling the Iranian websites today and helped compile the following:
Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, Natanz Nuclear Site commerce director, was assassinated at 08:30 am local time in Tehran. According to Fars News, a motorcyclist attached a magnet bomb to Roshan’s car. The blast killed Roshan and wounded two passengers in the car. A photo essay from the site of the explosion is here, and a photograph purporting to show Roshan after the bombing is here.
According to press reports, another Iranian nuclear scientist was killed in a bomb attack:
The bomb assassination of an Iranian atomic scientist on Wednesday will not stop “progress” in Iran’s nuclear programme, Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi told state television. “Today (Wednesday) those who claim to be combatting terrorism have targeted Iranian scientists. They should know that Iranian scientists are more determined than ever in striding towards Iran’s progress,” he said. He called Wednesday’s killing of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a deputy director of Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility, “evidence of (foreign) government-sponsored terrorism.”
Sometimes, assassination can forestall far bloodier conflict. As for Roshan, good riddance.
The friendly relationship between the dictatorial regimes in Iran and Venezuela has long troubled the United States, but the latest expression of this bizarre alliance has implications for Washington’s efforts to isolate Tehran. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in Caracas this week for another love fest with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. The highlight of their exchange was when Chavez referred to a grassy knoll in front of his palace. “That hill will open up and a big atomic bomb will come out,” said Chavez as the two authoritarians laughed about the big joke.
Iran’s nuclear ambitions are no laughing matter for those who fear the Islamist regime being able to put a nuclear umbrella over its terrorist allies Hezbollah and Hamas or being able to threaten Israel with extinction. But the importance of Chavez to Iran is not his ability to provide them with moral support. The only real lever short of the use of force for the West to stop Iran’s nuclear program is an oil embargo. This week’s visit to South America is a reminder that Tehran has allies, including oil producers like Venezuela who may be willing to help them in the event President Obama finds the will to try to enforce a tough sanctions policy.
This poll was conducted by Synovate eNation on behalf of US News and World Report’s Washington Whispers, which seems…questionable. But it has received a lot of attention from bloggers today, mainly for the finding that Americans fear Obama’s reelection by a 2:1 ratio.
In our New Year’s poll, when asked what news event they fear most about 2012, Americans by a margin of two-to-one said Obama’s reelection. Only 16 percent said they fear the Democrat won’t win a second term, while 33 percent said they fear four more years. …
The Obama administration seems to be enjoying some success in getting European states to embargo Iranian oil. That’s good news. The question, however, is whether this latest round of sanctions will convince Iran to do what previous sanctions have not done–i.e., convince it to forego nuclear weapons. I hope so, but hope isn’t a policy, and there is good reason for skepticism.
In the first place, Iran will be able to sell its oil in Asia, to China, India, and even to U.S. allies such as Japan and South Korea. It may lose some money in the bargain, but it seems doubtful the loss of some oil revenue will be enough to dissuade the clerical regime from what it seems to view as a national, indeed religious, obligation. The mullahs know the Iranian Revolution will be far more secure–less prone to attack, more able to attack with impunity–if it has nukes, and past conduct indicates that it will not stop until it has them.