“Mostafa’s ultimate goal was the annihilation of Israel,” Fatemeh Bolouri Kashani told the Fars News Agency this week.
She was referring to the wishes of her late husband, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan Behdast, an Iranian nuclear scientist assassinated on the streets of Tehran in January.
It is unclear who exactly killed her husband and other scientists involved in the Iranian nuclear program over the last two years — no one has claimed responsibility — but their elimination was likely directed by Israel, the United States or one of the various Arab countries that quite understandably fear a nuclear Iran (or perhaps a combination thereof). What Kashani’s comment highlights, however, is why Israel cannot live with a nuclear Iran and why Israel’s leaders have been forced to seriously weigh authorizing a difficult and dangerous mission to set the Iranian nuclear program back militarily.
Many foreign policy elites, perhaps epitomized by CNN host Fareed Zakaria, confidently assert that Israel specifically, and the West generally, can live with a nuclear Iran. The Iranian leadership isn’t suicidal, they tell us. Ignore Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s repeated calls for Israel to be wiped off the map, or Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s statement that Israel is a “cancerous tumor of a state” that “should be removed from the region,” or the supposed moderate former Iranian President Akbar Rafsanjani’s casual remark that the “application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world.”
They’re just posturing or joking or have been misinterpreted, we’re told. Israel and the West can live with a nuclear Iran, foreign policy intellectuals in New York, London and Berlin proclaim.
But if you’re the tiny, embattled State of Israel, it is hard to see how you can afford to take the chance that the Iranian leadership is merely joshing with their eliminationist rhetoric. Even if the odds are only 5 percent that the Iranian regime is apocalyptic and would act to bring back the hidden Imam through a nuclear holocaust, a five percent chance of a second holocaust is five percent too much for Israel to tolerate. (And let’s forget entirely for a moment the dire strategic problems of dealing with a nuclear-armed Iran even if the Islamic Republic doesn’t immediately use the bomb once it obtains the capability to strike. Try handling Hezbollah when they have a nuclear shield.)
But while Western policy elites exude confidence in the rationality of the Iranian regime, we see from Kashani’s comment about her late husband that those intimately involved in making a nuclear Iran a reality believe it is their mission — likely the very reason they got involved in the nuclear project to begin with — to eliminate the Jewish state. And we aren’t talking about some uneducated bumpkin. This was a highly-educated nuclear scientist.