‘Smart satellite-controlled machine gun’ killed top Iranian nuclear scientist, regime says

Iran: Satellite-controlled machine gun used to kill top nuclear scientist
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‘Smart satellite-controlled machine gun’ killed top Iranian nuclear scientist, regime says

The killing of Iran’s top nuclear scientist last month was carried out remotely with artificial intelligence and a machine gun equipped with a “satellite-controlled smart system”, Tasnim news agency quoted a senior commander as saying.

Iran has blamed Israel for the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was seen by Western intelligence services as the mastermind of a covert Iranian program to develop nuclear weapons capability.

Tehran has long denied any such ambition.

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the killing, and one of its officials suggested that the Tasnim report of the tactics used was a face-saving gambit by Iran.

In the past, however, Israel has acknowledged pursuing covert, intelligence-gathering operations against the nuclear program of its arch-enemy.

Iranian military personnel stand near the flag-draped coffin of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.(AP: Iranian Defense Ministry)

The Islamic Republic has given contradictory details of Mr Fakhrizadeh’s death in a daytime November 27 ambush on his car on a highway near Tehran.

“No terrorists were present on the ground … Martyr Fakhrizadeh was driving when a weapon, using an advanced camera, zoomed in on him,” Tasnim, a semi-official agency, quoted Ali Fadavi, the deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, as saying during a ceremony.

Mr Fadavi spoke after Iranian authorities said they had found “clues about the assassins”, though they have yet to announce any arrests.

The scene where Mr Fakhrizadeh was killed in Absard, a small city just east of the capital, Tehran.(AP: Fars News Agency)

Shortly after Mr Fakhrizadeh was killed, witnesses told state television that a truck had exploded before a group of gunmen opened fire on his car.

Last week, Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, said the killing was carried out with “electronic devices” with no people on the ground.

Israel says there is ’embarrassment’ in Iran over killing

Experts and officials told Reuters last week Mr Fakhrizadeh’s killing exposed security gaps that suggest its security forces may have been infiltrated and that the Islamic Republic was vulnerable to further attacks.

A protester holds an anti-Israeli placard during a gathering in front of Iranian Foreign Ministry.(AP: Vahid Salemi)

“Some 13 shots were fired at martyr Fakhrizadeh with a machine gun controlled by satellite. During the operation, artificial intelligence and face recognition were used,” Mr Fadavi said.

Yoav Galant, an Israeli security cabinet minister, said he was “not aware” of whether the remote-operated targeting technologies described in the Iranian accounts existed.

“What I see is a great deal of embarrassment on the Iranian side,” Mr Galant, a former naval commando and deputy chief of Israel’s military, told Army Radio.

“It would appear that those who were responsible for [Mr Fakhrizadeh’s] security are now coming up with reasons for not having fulfilled that mission.”

Mr Fakhrizadeh, identified by Israel as a prime player in what it says is a continuing Iranian quest for a nuclear weapon, was the fifth Iranian nuclear scientist killed in targeted attacks since 2010 inside Iran, and the second slaying of a high-ranking Iranian official in 2020.

The commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, was killed in a US drone strike in Iraq in January.

Tehran retaliated by firing missiles at US military targets in Iraq.

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Australian academic jailed in Iran freed in a prisoner swap.


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