In press conference with Iraqi PM, U.S. President says “We have asked for it back. We’ll see how the Iranians respond.” Tehran cites capture as Iranian victory.


President Barack Obama is pressing his request that Iran return the U.S. surveillance drone captured by the country’s armed forces.

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Obama said he would not comment “on intelligence matters that are classified.” But, he said during a White House news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that the U.S. wants the top-secret aircraft back. “We have asked for it back. We’ll see how the Iranians respond,” Obama said.

Iran TV reported earlier Monday that Iranian experts were in the final stages of recovering data from the RQ-170 Sentinel, which went down in Iran this month.

Tehran has cited the capture as a victory for Iran and displayed the nearly intact drone on state TV. U.S. officials say the aircraft malfunctioned and was not brought down by Iran.

Last week, Iranian state television displayed what it said was a downed U.S. surveillance drone, days after U.S. officials expressed concern that Tehran would be able to glean information about a classified military program.   According to the semi-official Fars news agency, in the televised segment, commander of the Revolutionary Guard’s Aerospace Forces Amir Ali Hajizadeh said that Iranian forces uncovered the aircraft as it was about “to infiltrate our country’s airspace for spying missions.”

“[A]fter it entered the Eastern parts of the country, this aircraft fell into the trap of our armed forces and was downed in Iran with minimum damage,” Hajizadeh told Fars.

According to the Iranian military official, the drone was “equipped with highly advanced surveillance, data gathering, electronic communication and radar systems,” saying that “this kind of plane has been designed to evade radar systems and from the view point of technology it is amongst the most recent types of advanced aircraft used by the U.S.”

“The technology used in this aircraft had already been used in B2 and F35 planes,” Hajizadeh added, saying the “aircraft is controlled and guided through satellite link and land stations in Afghanistan and the United States.”

“Military experts are well aware how precious the technological information of this drone is,” Fars quoted Hajizadeh as saying.

Iran scoffs at Obama request for US drone’s return

Islamic Republic says US downed drone is now its property, dismissive of Obama’s demand for UAV’s return. Obama ‘has forgotten that Iran’s airspace was violated,’ says Iranian spokesman


A US drone captured by Iran is now the “property” of the Islamic republic, Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said on Tuesday, dismissing a request by President Barack Obama for its return.

“The American espionage drone is now Iran’s property, and our country will decide what steps to take regarding it,” Vahidi was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency.

“Instead of apologizing to the Iranian nation, it (the United States) is brazenly asking for the drone back,” Vahidi also said, according to another news agency, Mehr.

Iran “will not back down from defending the nation or its interests,” Vahidi declared.

Obama on Monday acknowledged that Iran was holding the reconnaissance drone — a bat-winged RQ-170 Sentinel — by saying: “We’ve asked for it back. We’ll see how the Iranians respond.”

Iran last week displayed on state television what it said was the drone. A lawmaker said the Islamic republic was unlocking the aircraft’s software and was going to reverse-engineer the drone.

Iran’s foreign ministry was similarly dismissive of Obama’s request.

“It seems he (Obama) has forgotten that Iran’s airspace was violated, spying operations were undertaken, international laws were violated and that Iran’s internal affairs were interfered with,” ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Tuesday in his regular media briefing, according to Fars news agency.

“Instead of an official apology and admitting to this violation, they are making this request,” he said.

Iranian officials claimed a Revolutionary Guards cyber-warfare unit had hacked the aircraft’s controls and brought it down.

The head of Iran’s parliamentary national security committee, Parviz Sorouri, said on Monday that Iran was in the “final stages” of decoding the drone’s software and “our next action will be to reverse-engineer the aircraft.”

Obama, who gave the first official US confirmation that the drone was in Iran’s hands, shed no light on the plane’s mission or why it failed to return to its 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 had expressed doubt that Iran would agree to give back the drone.

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

Although the drone incident has handed Iran a propaganda coup, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta voiced skepticism that Tehran would 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.”

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