Letters to the Editor: Slain Iranian nuclear scientist was no J. Robert Oppenheimer
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi's coffin with a flag is carried during a memorial service in Mashhad, Iran on November 28. (Associated Press)
To the editor: The statement that nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, who was murdered on November 27th, was the Iranian equivalent of J. Robert Oppenheimer is a flawed comparison.
The Americans developed the atomic bomb during World War II because they feared Nazi Germany might hit it. The US only used the bomb when it realized that Japan would not surrender anytime soon and require a military invasion that would kill hundreds of thousands of Americans.
In contrast, Fakhrizadeh worked for a regime that repeatedly threatened Israel with annihilation. He was brigadier general of the Iranian military and worked on its nuclear program. In fact, he was a policy maker for the regime.
Oppenheimer was a scientist who played no part in American foreign policy. In fact, he warned that the development of the bomb would cause the world to self-destruct. That statement, along with his post-World War II activism, got him into trouble, which led to his dismissal by those who tried to blame someone for Russia's acquisition of the bomb.
There is no evidence that Fakhrizadeh had such reservations. He worked for a regime whose leaders expressed a desire to wipe Israel off the map.
Larry Shapiro, Calgary
To the editor: Iran has many aspects to consider when deciding on its retaliatory measures against Israel, which it accused of carrying out the assassination attempt.
It could strengthen its status in the eyes of its allies without unduly provoking enemies by encouraging the future US administration to negotiate its return to the nuclear deal. This could ease economic sanctions without giving the Trump administration an excuse for starting a war.
Here's another angle: The Israeli government is hanging by a thread. Due to the unpopularity of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he has clung to power through a coalition government that is due to change prime ministers next October. His exit can be accelerated considerably by the result of multiple bribery measures.
Iran may find it more beneficial in the long run to delay its response until it gets a feel for what to expect from President-elect Joe Biden and Benny Gantz, who is slated to become Israel's prime minister in less than a year.
Thomas Bailey, Long Beach
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.
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