Iran claims U.S. drone cap­ture; Navy de­nies loss

Boe­ing air­craft can be launched from ships, firm says.

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - Bythomas Erdbrink

TEHRAN, IRAN — Iran’s Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards have cap­tured a U.S. drone that it said en­tered Ira­nian airspace over the Per­sian Gulf, state tele­vi­sion re­ported Tues­day. The claim was quickly de­nied by the U.S. Navy.

Ira­nian state me­dia said the air­craft was a ScanEa­gle built by Boe­ing, which, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany’s web­site, can be launched and op­er­ated from ships.

A spokesman for the U.S. Navy in Bahrain de­nied the Ira­nian claim, say­ing that no U.S. drones were miss­ing.

“The U.S. Navy has fully ac­counted for all un­manned air ve­hi­cles op­er­at­ing in the Mid­dle East re­gion,” a spokesman for the U.S. Naval Forces Cen­tral Com­mand in Bahrain told Reuters.

“Our op­er­a­tions in the gulf are con­fined to in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized water and airspace. We have no record that we have lost any ScanEa­gles re­cently.”

How­ever, the drone could have been one used by the CIA, or even the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency, which both have eyes on Iran. Sev­eral king­doms of the Per­sian Gulf also have ScanEa­gle drones.

If the seizure is con- firmed, it would in­di­cate a spike in ten­sion be­tween the United States and Iran in the skies over the gulf.

On Nov. 8, Pen­tagon of­fi­cials said Ira­nian war­planes had fired at a Preda­tor drone fly­ing over the gulf the pre­vi­ous week. It was be­lieved to be the first in­ci­dent in which Ira­nian war­planes had fired on a U.S. drone, they said.

State tele­vi­sion showed im­ages of what seemed to be an in­tact ScanEa­gle be­ing in­spected by Rear Adm. Ali Fa­davi, the com­man­der of the Rev­olu- tionary Guards’ naval forces. The drone was dis­played in front of a large map of the Per­sian Gulf with a text in English and Per­sian say­ing, “We shall tram­ple on the U.S.”

With­out men­tion­ing the drone claim, Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad on Tues­day warned Iran’s ad­ver­saries against ag­gres­sion.

“Our en­e­mies should open their eyes,” he said in a speech.

“They may be able to take a few steps for­ward, but in the end we will make them re­treat be­hind their own bor­der.”

Iran’s for­eign min­is­ter, Ali Ak­bar Salehi, told state tele­vi­sion Tues­day that the coun­try planned to use the cap­ture of the drone as ev­i­dence against the United States in in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions.

“We will use this drone as ev­i­dence to pur­sue a le­gal case against Amer­i­can in­va­sion in in­ter­na­tional fo­rums,” Salehi said.

AL-ALAM TV

Ira­nian state TV showed what it claims is a U.S. drone that en­tered Ira­nian airspace over the Per­sian Gulf.

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