Ali Vaez and Charls Ferguson deplore the assassination of Iranian scientists:

This is the fourth Iranian scientist who has been mysteriously murdered in the past two years. Such acts of terrorism are unlikely to significantly delay or deter Tehran’s nuclear program. It is implausible that Iran’s expansive cadre of nuclear scientists depend on one or several individuals. Most of these scientists were educated at Iranian universities and are thus replaceable. Rather, it is the adverse effects and ramifications of these terrors that are most likely to be felt outside of Iran.

The resulting climate of insecurity feeds ammunition to hardliners in Tehran demanding reprisals. Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani’s appointment as the new head of Iran’s atomic energy organization may have been part of the backlash against the campaign to eliminate Iranian scientists. Abbasi, suspected of involvement in Iran’s alleged nuclear weapon program and blacklisted under UN sanctions, survived a near-identical assassination attempt in November 2010. It is now under his watch that Iran tips closer toward becoming a nuclear weapons threshold state.

This is probably what is most perverse about these assassinations: they are not making it any less likely that Iran would decide to build nuclear weapons, nor would these attacks impede their development, and so they are killings designed to “send a message” like so many other fruitless acts of terror.