13 December 2011
Last updated at 10:21 GMT
Iranian TV showed the unmanned “stealth” aircraft apparently undamaged
Iran has rejected a US call for the return of an American spy drone captured by Iran’s military.
The aircraft was now “property” of Iran and it was up to Iran to decide what to do with it, defence minister Ahmad Vahidi said.
Tehran captured the RQ-170 Sentinel earlier this month in eastern Iran. Mr Vahidi said the US should apologise for invading Iranian air space.
Tehran says it brought the drone down, but the US insists it malfunctioned.
“The American espionage drone is now Iran’s property, and our country will decide what steps to take regarding it,” Mr Vahidi was quoted as saying by Isna news agency, following a call for the aircraft’s return by US President Barack Obama.
“Instead of apologising to the Iranian nation, it [the US] is brazenly asking for the drone back,” he added, according to another semi-official news agency, Mehr.
On Monday Iranian state TV reported that military experts were in the final stages of recovering data from the drone.
A member of the Iranian parliament’s national security committee, Parviz Sorouri, said the information they extracted would be used to “file a lawsuit against the United States over the invasion”.
Also on Monday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted it was likely that the drone would not be returned. She said that despite numerous “provocations” from Iran, the US would pursue a “diplomatic approach”.
Iranian Revolutionary Guards were filmed inspecting the drone on Thursday. Tehran says it had crossed the Afghan border and travelled 250km (155 miles) inside Iranian airspace before being brought down in a cyber attack.
The Iranian government has sent a letter of protest to the UN accusing the US of violating international law.
A former US official has said the Pentagon was using the drone to keep watch on Iran’s controversial nuclear programme. Western powers believe Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, which it denies.
In a separate development, Iran’s official Irna news agency on Tuesday reported that 15 “American and Zionist” spies had been indicted.
The report, quoting Tehran’s chief prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi, gave no details about the charges, or the names of the accused.
Iran frequently accuses the US of seeking to covertly undermine its regime. In May, Iran’s intelligence ministry announced the arrest of 30 CIA “spies”.Comments (0)