Iran Says Assassinated Nuclear Scientist Was Shot By Satellite-Controlled Machine Gun
A top nuclear scientist killed in Iran last week was shot by a satellite-controlled machine gun, officials in the country have claimed.
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh died on November 27 of gunshot wounds, after the convoy he was travelling in was attacked on a highway outside Tehran. Initially, it was believed that gunmen on the scene carried out the attack, however officials now believe that Fakhrizadeh was killed by far more advanced technology.
In a statement given to Iran’s Press TV, General Ramezan Sharif, Brigadier General of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, said that ‘advanced electronic instruments guided by satellite were used in the assassination of Martyr Fakhrizadeh’.
Officials have claimed that the nuclear scientist was specifically targeted by Artificial Intelligence (AI), which was able to ‘zoom in’ on Fakhrizadeh, who was also travelling with his wife and security team, Bloomberg reports. The gun reportedly fired 13 shots, with the only other injury being a bodyguard who tried to shield the scientist.
Sky News reports that Commodore Ali Fadavi, deputy commander of the IRGC, told Mehr news agency:
The machine gun was equipped with artificial intelligence to target Martyr Fakhrizadeh.
The gun was focused only on Martyr Fakhrizadeh, and his wife was not shot, despite being a few centimetres away.
The head of the protection team was also shot four times because he threw himself on Fakhrizadeh, and no enemy was on the scene to shoot the guards.
There has been some confusion over how the assassination was carried out. Iranian media initially reported a gun battle, before later carrying the story about the remote-controlled gun. BBC Security Correspondent Frank Gardner says many are sceptical of the account, writing that the use of this kind of weapon would be ‘less plausible, although not impossible.’
Many experts claim that high-tech AI weaponry could play an important role in conflicts over the coming decades. The US Army has used remote-controlled guns in Iraq and Afghanistan, enabling soldiers to fire shots without having to leave their vehicles, however these weapons are still operated by humans. If the reports are true, this would certainly be the most high profile example of an AI-based weapon being used in a real-life killing.
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was believed to be a key figure in Iran’s nuclear programme, and has been described as the country’s equivalent to J. Robert Oppenheimer, the ‘father of the atomic bomb’. His killing is the second high profile assassination of a top Iranian official this year, with IRGC commander General Qasem Soleimani killed by a US drone strike in Iraq in January. Iran has blamed Israel for Fakhrizadeh’s assassination.
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