Iran Says It Will Not Return US Drone

Posted December 13th, 2011 at 12:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Iran has rejected a U.S. request to return a drone ((pilotless aircraft) that Tehran says it brought down near the Afghan border earlier this month.

Iranian Defense Minister, Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi, said Tuesday that the aircraft is Iran's property.

Also, state-run media quote Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast as saying the surveillance aircraft is a security violation and the U.S. should apologize for the incident.

“The United States of America needs to know that what it has done in violation of Iranian air space is a measure that can endanger global security and peace. The responsibilities and implications of this need to be accepted.''

President Barack Obama said the U.S. had asked for the drone back and would “see how the Iranians respond.” But Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that given Iran's past behavior, “we do not expect them to comply.”

Mr. Obama, in a session with reporters Monday, refused to comment on what he termed “intelligence matters that are classified.” But news reports say the aircraft with advanced stealth technology either strayed into Iranian airspace from Afghanistan or was spying on Iran's nuclear program.

Iranian says the drone was brought down by a cyber attack just inside its eastern border. Officials say military experts are in the final stages of extracting data from the aircraft.

Iran says the aircraft is an RQ-170 Sentinel drone, designed to evade enemy radar during surveillance flights.

In a separate development, the U.S. has announced it is imposing sanctions on two Iranian military leaders for alleged human rights abuses.

The U.S. Treasury Department announced the restrictions, Tuesday, targeting joint chiefs of staff chairman, Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, and Revolutionary Guard Deputy Commander Abollah Araqi. The sanctions ban U.S. business relations with the two officials and will also freeze any assets they have under U.S. jurisdiction.