How Israel Assassinated Top Iranian Nuclear Scientist With 'Killer Robot'

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The scene of the attack that killed prominent Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, outside Tehran, last year.
The scene of the attack that killed prominent Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, outside Tehran, last year.Credit: WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

Israel used a high-tech remote-controlled machine gun for the first time last year to kill a prominent Iranian nuclear scientist, The New York Times reported Saturday, apparently confirming earlier Iranian reports that conflicted with alleged eyewitness reports of a gun battle.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed by what the article said was a “killer robot” equipped with artificial intelligence and multiple-camera eyes that is operated via satellite. The report cited an intelligence officer as saying that Israel used a special model of the Belgian-made FN machine gun that was attached to a robotic instrument.

Israel’s problem, the report said, was that the gun and robot (along with its components and accessories) weighed around a ton. Therefore, according to The New York Times, Israel has to break down the equipment and smuggle the individual pieces into Iran one at a time before reassembly inside the country.

According to the report, the robot was designed to fit in the bed of a pickup, which was mounted with cameras aimed in several directions and which contained explosives that allowed operators to destroy evidence. Another challenge was ensuring that it was Fakhrizadeh driving the car that would be targeted and not a member of his family, an issue that was solved by parking a fake broken car containing a camera with face-recognition software, Iranian investigators claim, at a junction he was expected to pass.

In the end, the operation took less than a minute and only fifteen bullets were fired.

Planning for the killing began after former President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal, when Israel sought to restart its campaign to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program, the report said. U.S. officials supported the plan, the report cited an official present when it was presented as saying. It was the prospect that Trump would lose the upcoming election that led Israel to take action when it did, according to the report.

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