Iran Claims Footage Extracted from Downed US Drone
Military officials say they were able to decode data extracted from the captured U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel craft.
February 07, 2013 12:21 PM
Iran has released what it says is decoded footage taken from a U.S. spy drone that Tehran claimed to have captured in late 2011 after it entered Iranian airspace from the country's eastern border with Afghanistan.
A story published on the web site of Britain's Telegraph
newspaper shows the footage recently aired
by Iranian state television.
Iranian state television broadcast the video late Wednesday. It showed images of what Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards said was a U.S. drone at an airbase in the Afghan city of Kandahar, as well as other aerial shots.
General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, chief of the aerospace division of the Revolutionary Guards, said in the broadcast that Iranian officials were able to decode data extracted from the RQ-170 Sentinel drone.
He said the data showed the aircraft had made many flights in Iran's neighboring countries.
Last year, Iranian news agencies quoted the general as saying data recovered from the drone indicated it had flown above the Pakistani hideout of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden shortly before he was assassinated.
U.S. officials have acknowledged losing the surveillance drone. They have said Iran will find it hard to exploit any data and technology aboard it because of measures taken to limit the intelligence value of drones operating over hostile territory.
Last year, The Washington Post
reported that a CIA stealth surveillance drone flew deep over Iranian territory several years ago, capturing images of Iran's secret Qom uranium enrichment facility before returning home.
The newspaper said there was no sign the aircraft was ever detected. It said such CIA spy planes scoured dozens of suspicious sites related to Iran's disputed nuclear program before the RQ-170 aircraft crashed in December 2011.
Western countries say Iran's nuclear program aims to produce atomic weapons. Iran says the work is solely for peaceful purposes.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.