US Asks Iran to Return Lost Drone
The United States said Monday that it has formally asked Iran to return an American surveillance drone that fell into Iranian hands earlier this month. Iran says it is extracting technology from the lost aircraft and will build copies of it.
U.S. officials had been circumspect about the drone, which Iranian Revolutionary Guards were filmed inspecting last week.
Now the authenticity of the pictured aircraft is not being disputed, and President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton say the United States wants it back.
At his news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the president was asked whether the loss of the drone would undermine U.S. national security.
“With respect to the drone inside of Iran, I’m not going to comment on intelligence matters that are classified,” said President Obama. “As has already been indicated, we have asked for it back. We’ll see how the Iranians respond.”
The request is understood to have been conveyed to Tehran by the Swiss government, which represents U.S. interests in Iran in the absence of diplomatic relations.
The U.S. government has not commented on the mission of the unmanned aircraft, which appears to be an RQ-170 Sentinel drone with advanced stealth technology.
News reports have said it was on a surveillance mission over Afghanistan and strayed into Iranian airspace or that it was spying on Iran’s nuclear program when ground controllers lost contact with it. Iran says it brought down the plane with a cyber attack, but aviation experts say the plane probably malfunctioned.