Iran claims U.S. drone capture; Navy denies loss
Boeing aircraft can be launched from ships, firm says.
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.
Iranian state TV showed what it claims is a U.S. drone that entered Iranian airspace over the Persian Gulf.