With yet another Iranian nuclear scientist freshly assassinated--presumably by Israel--Jeffrey Goldberg asks a good question: Why is Israel doing this?
Goldberg thinks the most common answers are less than compelling. It's unlikely, he says, that "Iranian nuclear knowledge is so concentrated in the minds of a few scientists" that these killings are a major setback to the nuclear program. And he doubts that the killings will scare much Iranian talent out of the nuclear science business, since the Iranian government wouldn't tolerate such an exodus.
But there's a third option that Goldberg doesn't consider: Israel is trying to start a war with Iran. The more Iranian scientists it kills (and the more missile testing facilities it blows up), the more likely Iran is to retaliate. And things have a way of escalating, which would pave the way for military strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities.
Obviously, Israel could bomb Iran's facilities even without such escalation. But escalation offers two advantages:
1) Israel gets less blame, because it isn't accused of starting things. Of course, from Iran's point of view, Israel did start things by assassinating Iranians and blowing up Iranian stuff. But whether assassinating foreigners is bad depends on your point of view. In the eyes of the west and especially the United States, it's terrorism when Iran does it but not when Israel or America does it.