Iran denies Israeli 'killer robot' assassinated Iranian nuclear scientist

Iran denies Israeli 'killer robot' assassinated Iranian nuclear scientist
The Iranian foreign ministry denied a report that an Israeli AI robot killed one of the country's top scientists.
2 min read
20 September, 2021
The leading scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was assassinated on 27 November in under 60 seconds, according to the NYT [Getty]

Iran has denied a report that Israel assassinated a top Iranian nuclear scientist on November 2020 using a remote gun.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh dismissed the New York Times (NYT) story about how Israel used a robot to take out one of Israel's most heavily guarded officials, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

Khatibzadeh added that Iranian security and intelligence bodies have already detailed reports of the incident, which include "all those who had participated" in the operation.

The leading Iranian scientist, Fakhrizadeh, who was assassinated on 27 November last year in Tehran, was killed by a remotely controlled robot machine gun by Israeli Mossad operatives from hundreds of miles away, according to the NYT report published on Saturday.

It said Fakhrizadeh, known as the "father" of Iran's nuclear weapons programme, was shot with a computerised Belgian-made FN MAG machine gun attached to a robot apparatus and powered by artificial intelligence.

The NYT report was based on interviews with American, Israeli and Iranian officials, "including two intelligence officials familiar with the details of the planning and execution of the operation".

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Israel was watching Fakhrizadeh, who was also an officer in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and his movements since 2007.

Preparations for his assassination started in late 2019 in meetings held between the then-Mossad director, Yossi Cohen, and high-ranking US officials, including then-US President Donald Trump, the NYT report claims.

"If Israel was going to kill a top Iranian official, an act that had the potential to start a war, it needed the assent and protection of the United States," the report said.

An anonymous senior Israeli official told the daily that the world should thank Israel for the assassination due to Fakhrizadeh's alleged role in aiding Iran with its aspirations to nuclear weapons.

Fakhrizadeh was killed whilst travelling with his wife to their country home in East Tehran. As bullets were shot, the scientist left his car and crouched down before being hit with three more bullets and collapsing on the road.

The device used in the assassination weighed around a ton and was smuggled into Iran in small parts ahead of the operation before being reassembled, according to NYT. Fifteen bullets were fired in total with the assassination taking less than a minute to complete.

At the time, Iran's Revolutionary Guards said that a satellite-controlled gun with "artificial intelligence" was used in the attack, which Tehran immediately blamed on Israel. Iran vowed to take revenge once its investigations were concluded.