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Iran: Israel Remotely Killed Scientist 11/30 06:20

   

   TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- A top Iranian security official on Monday accused 
Israel of using "electronic devices" to remotely kill a scientist who founded 
the Islamic Republic's military nuclear program in the 2000s.

   Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the country's Supreme National Security 
Council, made the comment at the funeral for Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, where Iran's 
defense minister separately vowed to continue the man's work "with more speed 
and more power."

   Israel, long suspected of killing Iranian nuclear scientists over the last 
decade, repeatedly has declined to comment on the attack.

   Fakhrizadeh headed Iran's so-called AMAD program, which Israel and the West 
have alleged was a military operation looking at the feasibility of building a 
nuclear weapon. The International Atomic Energy Agency says that "structured 
program" ended in 2003. U.S. intelligence agencies concurred with that 
assessment in a 2007 report.

   Israel insists Iran still maintains the ambition of developing nuclear 
weapons, pointing to Tehran's ballistic missile program and research into other 
technologies. Iran long has maintained its nuclear program is peaceful.

   Shamkhani's remarks drastically change the story of Fakhrizadeh's killing 
Friday. Authorities initially said a truck exploded and then gunmen opened fire 
on the scientist, killing him. State TV even interviewed a man the night of the 
attack who described seeing gunmen open fire.

   State TV's English-language Press TV reported earlier Wednesday a weapon 
recovered from the scene of the attack bore "the logo and specifications of the 
Israeli military industry." State TV's Arabic-language channel, Al-Alam, 
claimed the weapons used were "controlled by satellite," a claim also made 
Sunday by the semiofficial Fars news agency.

   None of the outlets immediately offered evidence supporting their claims.

   "Unfortunately, the operation was a very complicated operation and was 
carried out by using electronic devices," Shamkhani told state TV. "No 
individual was present at the site."

   Satellite control of weapons is nothing new. Armed, long-range drones for 
instance rely on satellite connections to be controlled by their remote pilots. 
Remote-controlled gun turrets also exist, but typically see their operator 
connected by a hard line to cut down on the delay in commands being relayed.

   While technically feasible, it wasn't immediately clear if such a system had 
been used before, said Jeremy Binnie, the Mideast editor of Jane's Defence 
Weekly.

   "Could you set up a weapon with a camera which then has a feed that uses an 
open satellite communications line back to the controller?" Binnie said. "I 
can't see why that's not possible."

   It also raised the question of if the truck that exploded during the attack 
detonated afterward to try and destroy a satellite-controlled machine gun 
hidden inside of it. Iranian officials did not immediately acknowledge that. It 
also would require someone on the ground to set up the weapon.

   Shamkhani also blamed the Iranian exile group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq as well for 
"having a role in this," without elaborating. The MEK did not immediately 
respond to a request for comment.

   Monday's service for Fakhrizadeh took place at an outdoor portion of Iran's 
Defense Ministry in Tehran, with officials including Revolutionary Guard chief 
Gen. Hossein Salami, the Guard's Quds Force leader Gen. Esmail Ghaani, civilian 
nuclear program chief Ali Akbar Sahei and Intelligence Minister Mamoud Alavi. 
They sat apart from each other and wore masks due to the coronavirus pandemic 
as reciters melodically read portions of the Quran and religious texts.

   Defense Minister Gen. Amir Hatami gave a speech after kissing Fakhrizadeh's 
casket and putting his forehead against it. He said Fakhrizadeh's killing would 
make Iranians "more united, more determined."

   "For the continuation of your path, we will continue with more speed and 
more power," Hatami said in comments aired live by state television.

   Hatami also criticized countries that hadn't condemned Fakhrizadeh's 
killing, warning: "This will catch up with you someday." Overnight, the United 
Arab Emirates, which just reached a normalization deal with Israel, issued a 
statement condemning "the heinous assassination." The UAE, home to Abu Dhabi 
and Dubai, warned it "could further fuel conflict in the region."

   Last year, the UAE found itself in the middle of an escalating series of 
incidents between Iran and the U.S. Though long suspicious of Iran's nuclear 
program, the Emirates has said it wants to de-escalate the crisis. The UAE just 
started passenger air service to Israel and Israelis are expected to vacation 
in the country over Hanukkah in the coming days.

   Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz has sent a 
cable to all Israeli diplomatic delegations around the globe urging diplomats 
to maintain "the highest level of readiness and awareness of any irregular 
activity" around missions and Jewish community centers.

   Hebrew-language media in Israel reported that following the Fakhrizadeh's 
killing, the Foreign Ministry ordered security beefed up at certain Israeli 
diplomatic missions overseas. The ministry declined to comment on diplomatic 
security matters.

 
 
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