Obama: US Wants Iran to Return Downed Drone

Posted December 12th, 2011 at 2:55 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States has asked for Iran to return a U.S. surveillance drone that Tehran says it brought down through a cyber attack.

President Obama said Monday he would not comment on classified intelligence matters, but that the United States has asked for the drone back and will “see how the Iranians respond.”

Mr. Obama spoke at a joint news conference at the White House with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Iranian state television released images late last week of what it said was an unmanned U.S. drone that was recently downed just inside Iran's eastern border.

Tehran has complained to the United Nations, and Iran's Foreign Ministry summoned the Swiss Ambassador to Tehran to protest the incident. The U.S. and Iran do not have diplomatic relations, and Switzerland handles American interests in Iran.

U.S. officials have described the incident as a major setback to the stealth drone program. They said there are real fears that the Iranians will share the drone technology with China or some other country, but also expressed doubts the Iranians have the expertise to recover any surveillance data from the aircraft.

The incident comes at a time of heightened political tension over Iran's controversial nuclear program the West suspects is aimed at developing atomic weapons. The United States and Israel said they were considering “all options” on Tehran, if diplomacy fails to resolve the dispute.

Iran, however, maintains that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.