Iran Says It Captured Drone Over Gulf; U.S. Says None Missing
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said it captured an “intruding” U.S. drone over Persian Gulf waters, while a U.S. official said no aircraft were missing.
The state-run Press TV news channel said the ScanEagle drone violated Iran’s airspace, and showed images of what it said was the captured aircraft, apparently intact. Two military officials were shown examining it against a backdrop of a map of the Persian Gulf that featured a quote from Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic: “We will trample the U.S. under our feet.”
A U.S. Navy spokesman based in Bahrain, where the Fifth Fleet is stationed, said that no American drones were missing in the region. He asked not to be identified. Iran’s national broadcaster interrupted a live speech by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is in Isfahan province to inaugurate a cement factory, to make the announcement.
The reported capture of the drone comes days after the U.S. Senate approved new sanctions against Iran to curb its nuclear program, which the U.S. and its Western allies say may conceal the development of nuclear weapons. Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes. The Senate voted Nov. 30 to impose financial penalties on foreign businesses and banks involved in Iran’s energy, ports, shipping and shipbuilding industries with the Islamic Republic.
Navy Rear Adm. Ali Fadavi, a commander of the Guard, said the drone had conducted reconnaissance flights in the Persian Gulf area over the past few days and was brought under control by the Guard’s air defense unit, according to Fars news agency. It wasn’t clear when the drone was captured.
In December 2011, Iran said it downed an RQ-170 Sentinel U.S. reconnaissance aircraft in the country’s east and asked the U.S. for an apology for violating its airspace.