By Brent Jones
Iran will not return a U.S. surveillance drone captured by its armed forces, a senior commander of the country’s elite Revolutionary Guard said Sunday.
Gen. Hossein Salami, deputy head of the Guard, said in remarks broadcast on state television that the violation of Iran’s airspace by the U.S. drone was a “hostile act” and warned of a “bigger” response. He did not elaborate on what Tehran might do.
“No one returns the symbol of aggression to the party that sought secret and vital intelligence related to the national security of a country,” Salami said.
Iranian television broadcast video Thursday of Iranian military officials inspecting what it identified as the RQ-170 Sentinel drone.
Iranian state media have said the unmanned spy aircraft was detected over the eastern town of Kashmar, some 140 miles from the border with Afghanistan. U.S. officials have acknowledged losing the drone.
Salami called its capture a victory for Iran and a defeat for the U.S. in a complicated intelligence and technological battle.
“Iran is among the few countries that possesses the most modern technology in the field of pilotless drones. The technology gap between Iran and the U.S. is not much,” he said. Lost U.S. drone’s sensors could hold vital data
Officers in the Guard, Iran’s most powerful military force, had previously claimed that the country’s armed forces brought down the surveillance aircraft with an electronic ambush, causing minimum damage to the drone.
American officials have said that U.S. intelligence assessments indicate that Iran neither shot the drone down, nor used electronic or cybertechnology to force it from the sky. They contend the drone malfunctioned. The officials had spoken anonymously in order to discuss the classified program.
Obama: Give Us Our Drone Back
Following days of silence on the American spy drone captured and unveiled by Iranian armed forces, US President Barack Obama says Washington has asked Tehran to return the US reconnaissance drone.
“We’ve asked for it back. We’ll see how the Iranians respond,” Obama said in a news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Monday. The plea comes as the US and CIA refused to adopt an official position after Iran aired footage of the captured unmanned aerial vehicle on December 8.
The US RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft was brought down with minimal damage by the Iranian Army’s electronic warfare unit on Sunday, December 4, 2011, when flying over the northeastern Iran city of Kashmar, some 225 kilometers (140 miles) away from the Afghan border.
On December 6, two US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to CNN that the drone was part of a CIA reconnaissance mission, involving the US intelligence community stationed in Afghanistan.
Iran says it’s almost done decoding US drone
Iranian experts are in the final stages of recovering data from the U.S. surveillance drone captured by the country’s armed forces, state TV reported Monday.
Tehran has flaunted the drone’s capture as a victory for Iran and a defeat for the United States in a complicated intelligence and technological battle.
Lawmaker Parviz Sorouri, who is on the parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee, said Monday the extracted information will be used to file a lawsuit against the United States for the “invasion” by the unmanned aircraft.
Sorouri also claimed that Iran has the capability to reproduce the drone through reverse engineering, but he didn’t elaborate.