Deaths could take a toll on the Iranian government
For the US government, killing Iranians, particularly those with government positions, is seen as a generally positive thing. This has some in the administration seeing Iran’s coronavirus crisis as an opportunity of sorts.
Coronavirus has killed over 700 Iranians so far, and infected many thousands. These aren’t all specific targets of the US, but there are some senior Iranian officials among them, and the administration sees those deaths as taking a toll on Iranian decision making.
Gen. Kenneth McKenzie says the US believes the overall impact may be bigger than anyone knows right now, and that the US is still assessing things. He added that it’s going to hurt Iran in the short-term, and that “of course, death is permanent.“
The US had previously withdrawn some troops from the Middle East, saying Iran is so weakened by the virus they don’t pose as big of a threat. Following that up with attacks on Iraqi Shi’ite militias, however, they are now playing up the risk of Iranian retaliation.
Assessments were that Iran doesn’t want a war, which is fairly obvious. At the same time, if the administration takes that to justify picking fights with Iran, they’re certain to provoke something eventually. That’s’ true no matter how many people the virus kills.