Obama demands Iran return downed US drone


President Barack Obama acknowledged for the first time Monday that a US drone was in Iranian hands and said the United States has asked Tehran to return the sophisticated spycraft.

“We’ve asked for it back. We’ll see how the Iranians respond,” Obama said at a news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

It was the first open confirmation by the Obama administration that Iran was in possession of the drone, which Tehran says it brought down as the plane was flying over its territory.

Obama, however, shed no further light on the plane’s mission or why it failed to return to a base in Afghanistan.

“With respect to the drone inside of Iran, I’m not going to comment on intelligence matters that are classified,” he said.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States had made a “formal request” to Tehran to return the drone but expressed doubt the arch-US foe would do so.

“Given Iran’s behavior to date, we do not expect them to comply,” Clinton told reporters at a press conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague, with whom she discussed Iran.

The bat-winged RQ-170 Sentinel, a stealth drone designed to evade radar for surveillance flights, was on a CIA mission when it went missing, US officials, speaking anonymously, have said previously.

The episode has handed Iran a propaganda coup and Iranian state television has shown images of a robotic aircraft that experts say resembles the Sentinel.

Iran has vowed to reverse engineer the drone but has given contradictory accounts of how the aircraft went down on December 4. Tehran initially said it shot down the drone but later claimed the Iranian military managed to hack into the plane’s flight controls.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta voiced skepticism that Iran would manage to gain much of a technological advantage from the aircraft.

“It’s a little difficult to know just frankly how much they’re going to be able to get from having obtained those parts,” Panetta told reporters aboard a US military aircraft.

“I don’t know the conditions of those parts. I don’t know what state they’re in.”

Asked if Iran may have forced the plane down in a cyber attack, Panetta said: “I don’t know.”

US officials previously indicated it was more likely the drone suffered a malfunction.

Other American drones have flown off-course in the past, including the Fire Scout robotic helicopter, with which engineers lost contact during a 2010 flight in Maryland.

Military commanders at one point considered shooting the helicopter down as it was heading toward the US capital but technicians managed to regain control of the aircraft.

US officials and analysts also have cast doubt over Iran’s ability to replicate the drone — at least without the help of Russia or China.

“US capabilities are remarkably advanced, and it’s unclear that the Iranians have the expertise” to exploit the advanced technology — including sensors — in the aircraft, a US official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

‘US plea for drone, forward escape bid’

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast says the US’s official demand from Iran to return an intruding American drone to the US is a “forward escape tactic” that comes instead of an apology for its flagrant intrusion into the Iranian airspace.

It seems that US President Barack Obama has forgotten that the United States has violated Iran’s airspace and engaged in an intrusive spying operation as well as interfering in the nation’s internal affairs, which are all in violation of international law, Mehmanparast told reporters at his weekly press conference on Tuesday.

The US needs to understand that what it has done in violating the Iranian airspace is a sort of measure that can threaten global peace and security, he added.

In an apparent forward escape tactic, Obama has pleaded for the return of the spy drone rather than making an official apology and admitting to the intrusive violation of Iran’s sovereignty, the Iranian spokesperson pointed out.

Mehmanparast emphasized that the US must accept responsibility for intruding into Iran’s airspace and the ensuing consequences of such abusive conduct.

Following days of silence regarding the downing of a sophisticated American spy drone by Iranian armed forces inside the country, Obama forwarded a formal request asking Iran to return the US reconnaissance aircraft.

“We’ve asked for it back. We’ll see how the Iranians respond,” Obama said on Monday.

On December 4, the Iranian military’s electronic warfare units brought down the US RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft with minimal damage. The spy drone was flying over the eastern city of Kashmar, some 225km (140 miles) from the Afghan border.

The aircraft, designed and developed by the American company Lockheed Martin, had crossed into Iran’s airspace over the border with neighboring Afghanistan.

On December 6, two US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the drone had been part of a CIA reconnaissance mission, involving the United States intelligence community stationed in Afghanistan.

Head of the Iranian Judiciary High Council for Human Rights Mohammad Javad Larijani said on Sunday that the violation of Iran’s airspace by the American spy drone is a blatant example of rights violation and legal measures will be taken against the US.

On Thursday, Iranian Ambassador to the UN Mohammad Khazaei also lodged an appeal in an official letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, urging the body to condemn the violation of Iran’s airspace by the US and adopt necessary measures to end these “dangerous and illegal” acts.

The Iranian government insists that the “blatant and provocative” violation of Iran’s airspace is tantamount to an act of hostility against the country, which is a clear breach of the international law, particularly the fundamental principles of the UN Charter, Mehmanparast concluded.

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2 Responses

  1. Sand In It. says:

    That’s funny!! I want my toy back!!!! It’s not fair, Iran is mean and stole my toy cause I kept flying it over and over his house annoying the shit out of him! And now he stole it!!! Pathetic!! Like watching 5 and 6 year olds dressed in suits, running the planet. My neighbors seeing eye dog is more responsible then these ego morons in charge!!!

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