Another Iranian nuclear scientist has been assassinated in Tehran and a familiar pattern is emerging: Weeks before a new round of talks, all sides escalate and provoke, mainly to improve their negotiating position at the upcoming talks.
The West has adopted new sanctions and is pressing for an oil embargo. The Iranians, in turn, have started enrichment at the Fordow facility and have warned it will close the Straits of Hormuz if the West proceeds with an oil embargo.
But there are also actors that escalate at times not to strengthen their position at the talks, but to scuttle the talks. The attack on the British embassy in Tehran late last year was partly motivated by the desire of one political faction in Iran to undo the talks. Yesterday’s assassination of another Iranian nuclear scientist was likely conducted by a regional actor who prefers a military confrontation with Iran over a compromise that would permit Iran to retain nuclear enrichment capabilities, even if it doesn’t build a bomb.
Indeed, in late November 2010, nuclear scientist Majid Shahriari was assassinated in an identical way as the killing of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan yesterday. That assignation took pace only seven weeks before a new round of scheduled talks between the P5+1 and Iran in Istanbul. Yesterday’s assassination also precedes the next round of talks with a few weeks.