Iranian nuclear scientists targeted in bomb attacks, one dead

Fresh off the revelation that Iran’s Sunni neighbors urged the US to attack Iran and decapitate its regime, two bombs targeting scientists in Iran’s nuclear program killed one and wounded another today in separate but apparently linked blasts.  These attacks follow earlier apparent assassinations that killed two other researchers in their nuclear program.  The Iranians, however, have chosen not to blame its neighbors but instead put the blame on Israel:

An Iranian nuclear scientist has been killed and another injured in separate attacks in Tehran today.

The scientists were targeted in two different locations by men riding motorcycles who attached bombs to their car windows as they drove to work.

One device killed Dr Majid Shahriari, a member of the nuclear engineering faculty at the Tehran University, and wounded his wife.

The second blast seriously wounded nuclear physicist Dr Fereidoun Abbasi. His wife was also injured. …

State television swiftly blamed Israel for the attacks.

It certainly could have been Israel.  It could also have been Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or perhaps even Iraq, which would find itself under the Iranian thumb more quickly than anyone if Tehran gets a nuke.  For that matter, it could be an opposition group within Iran wanting to get out from under the mullah’s thumb now.  The chances of the Obama administration doing it are probably microscopic, however, especially with the Executive Order forbidding assassinations still in effect.

In fact, this might be an Agatha Christie whodunit.  I’d love to think that the climax would be similar to Murder on the Orient Express, but I suspect that the actual plotters aren’t sharing information or control of the plot.

Is this an effective way to stop the program?  Stuxnet is probably more effective in the short run, especially since Iran likely has dozens or hundreds of researchers to replace those killed.  In that sense, this seems a little desperate, a last-ditch option intended to not only create a gap in expertise but also to convince those on the bench to refrain from filling the shoes of the deceased.  This option is less destructive than a military attack on nuclear sites, which has been the course apparently urged by Arab regimes in the area, with much less collateral damage and deaths, but it doesn’t strike at the real problem — the mullahs and their nuclear ambitions to control Southwest Asia and the oil resources it contains — at least not directly.