News / Middle East

Iran Says It Will Not Return US Drone

A member of Iran's revolutionary guard points at what Iran says is the U.S. RQ-170 unmanned spy plane, as he speaks with Admiral Hajizadeh (R), a revolutionary guard commander, at an unknown location in Iran, in this undated picture received December 8, 2
A member of Iran's revolutionary guard points at what Iran says is the U.S. RQ-170 unmanned spy plane, as he speaks with Admiral Hajizadeh (R), a revolutionary guard commander, at an unknown location in Iran, in this undated picture received December 8, 2

Iran has rejected a U.S. request to return a drone that Tehran says it brought down near the Afghan border earlier this month.

Iranian Defense Minister, Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi, said Tuesday that the aircraft is Iran's property.

Facts About US Drone Captured by Iran

  • The RQ-170 was built by Lockheed Martin and operated by the U.S. Air Force.
  • The Air Force describes the RQ-170 as a "low, observable unmanned aircraft system" that can provide reconnaissance and surveillance.
  • The drone is designed to evade enemy radar during surveillance flights. News reports say the US has used this type of drone in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • Defense analysts say the "RQ" designation indicates the drone is unarmed.

Also, state-run media quote Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast as saying the surveillance aircraft is a security violation and the U.S. should apologize for the incident.

"The United States of America needs to know that what it has done in violation of Iranian air space is a measure that can endanger global security and peace. The responsibilities and implications of this need to be accepted," said Mehmanparast.

President Barack Obama said the U.S. had asked for the drone back and would "see how the Iranians respond."  But Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that given Iran's past behavior, "we do not expect them to comply."

Obama, in a session with reporters Monday, refused to comment on what he termed "intelligence matters that are classified."  But news reports say the aircraft with advanced stealth technology either strayed into Iranian airspace from Afghanistan or was spying on Iran's nuclear program.  

Iranian says the drone was brought down by a cyber-attack just inside its eastern border. Officials say military experts are in the final stages of extracting data from the aircraft.  

Iran says the aircraft is an RQ-170 Sentinel drone, designed to evade enemy radar during surveillance flights.

In a separate development, the U.S. has announced it is imposing sanctions on two Iranian military leaders for alleged human rights abuses.

The U.S. Treasury Department announced the restrictions, Tuesday, targeting joint chiefs of staff chairman, Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, and Revolutionary Guard Deputy Commander Abollah Araqi. The sanctions ban U.S. business relations with the two officials and will also freeze any assets they have under U.S. jurisdiction.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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