Letters to the Editor: Slain Iranian nuclear scientist was no J. Robert Oppenheimer

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi's flag-draped coffin on Nov. 28.
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi’s flag-draped coffin is carried during a funeral ceremoney in Mashhad, Iran, on Nov. 28.
(Associated Press)

To the editor: Stating that nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, who was assasinated on Nov. 27, 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 that Nazi Germany might beat them to it. The U.S. used the bomb only when it realized that Japan would not soon capitulate and would require a military invasion that would cost hundreds of thousands of American lives.

In contrast, Fakhrizadeh worked for a regime that repeatedly threatened Israel with annihilation. He was a brigadier general in Iran’s military and worked on its nuclear program, so in effect he was a policy maker for the regime.


Oppenheimer was a scientist who had no role in America’s foreign policy. Indeed, he warned that the development of the bomb would result in the possibility that world would destroy itself. This statement along with his activism after World War II got him into trouble, resulting in his dismissal by those looking to blame someone for Russia acquiring the bomb.

There is no evidence that Fakhrizadeh had such reservations. He was working for a regime whose leaders expressed their wish to wipe Israel off the map.

Larry Shapiro, Calgary


To the editor: Iran has a lot of angles to consider in deciding on its retaliation against Israel, which it has accused of carrying out the assassination.

It could strengthen its status in the eyes of its allies while not unduly provoking enemies by encouraging the incoming U.S. administration to negotiate its return to the nuclear deal. This could ease economic sanctions without giving the Trump administration an excuse to start a war.

Here is another angle: The Israeli government is hanging by a thread. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s unpopularity has left him clinging to power via a coalition government that is scheduled to change prime ministers next October. His exit my be considerably hastened by the outcome of multiple bribery prosecutions.


Iran may find it more beneficial in the long run to delay its response until it gets a sense of what to expect from President-elect Joe Biden and Benny Gantz, who is set to become Israel’s prime minister in less than a year.

Thomas Bailey, Long Beach