OBAMA CALLS ON IRAN TO GIVE BACK DOWNED U.S. DRONE
December 12, 2011
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration said it has delivered a formal request to Iran for the return of a U.S. surveillance drone captured by Iranian armed forces, but is not hopeful that Iran will comply.
President Obama said Monday that the U.S. wants the top-secret aircraft back. "We have asked for it back. We'll see how the Iranians respond," Obama said during a White House news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Monday.
In an interview broadcast live Monday night on Venezuelan state television, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said nothing to suggest his country would grant the U.S. request.
"The Americans have perhaps decided to give us this spy plane," Ahmadinejad said. "We now have control of this plane."
Speaking through an interpreter, Ahmadinejad said: "There are people here who have been able to control this spy plane, who can surely analyze this plane's system also. . . . In any case, now we have this spy plane."
Obama wouldn't comment on what the Iranians might learn from studying the downed aircraft. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said it's difficult to know "just frankly how much they're going to be able to get from having obtained those parts."
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Panetta said they're not optimistic about getting the drone back because of recent Iranian behavior that Clinton said indicated "that the path that Iran seems to be going down is a dangerous one for themselves and the region."
"We submitted a formal request for the return of our lost equipment as we would in any situation to any government around the world," Clinton told reporters at a State Department news conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.
"Given Iran's behavior to date we do not expect them to comply but we are dealing with all of these provocations and concerning actions taken by Iran in close concert with our closest allies and partners," she said.
Panetta said the request to return the drone was appropriate. "I don't expect that that will happen," he said. "But I think it's important to make that request."
Neither Obama nor Clinton would provide details of the drone request, but diplomatic exchanges between Washington and Tehran are often handled by Switzerland, which represents U.S. interests in Iran. The State Department said Monday that the Swiss ambassador to Iran met with Iranian foreign ministry officials last week but refused to say what they discussed.
Iran TV reported earlier Monday that Iranian experts were in the final stages of recovering data from the RQ-170 Sentinel, which went down in Iran earlier this month. Tehran has cited the capture as a victory for Iran and displayed the nearly intact drone on state TV. U.S. officials say the aircraft malfunctioned and was not brought down by Iran.
Despite the incident, Clinton said the administration and its allies would continue to push Iran to engage over its nuclear program while at the same time increasing pressure on the regime with new, enhanced sanctions.
"We obviously believe strongly in a diplomatic approach. We want to see the Iranians engage and, as you know, we have attempted to bring about that engagement over the course of the last three-plus years. It has not proven effective, but we are not giving up on it," she said.
Standing beside Clinton, Hague agreed.
"We're not giving up on engagement with Iran, but on a number of occasions Iran has behaved in a way in recent weeks and months which has intensified confrontation with the rest of the world," he said. "We have seen an increasing predilection for dangerous and illegal adventures on the part of at least parts of the Iranian regime."
Clinton and Hague referred to the storming of British diplomatic compounds in Tehran, allegations that Iran tried to arrange the assassination of the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Iran's ongoing support for militant groups and its continued defiance of demands to prove its nuclear program is peaceful.
U.S. ASKS IRAN TO RETURN DRONE, EXPECTS NEGATIVE REPLY
Press Trust of India
December 13, 2011
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. has asked Iran to return the drone that Tehran says was brought down while it was flying over its territory, but expressed doubt the country would do so.
"You know, we submitted a formal request for the return of our lost equipment, as we would in any situation to any government around the world," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.
"Given Iran's behavior to date, we do not expect them to comply," she said.
"But we are dealing with all of these provocations and concerning actions taken by Iran in close concert with our closest allies and partners, starting with the U.K.," Ms. Clinton said.
Tehran has already said that it will not return the drone, which is said to be of a very sensitive nature.
Earlier in the day, U.S. President Barack Obama said, "As has already been indicated, we have asked for it (drone) back. We'll see how the Iranians respond," Mr. Obama told reporters at a joint news conference with the visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
However, Obama refused to comment on the impact of this drone in Iran on America's security interest.
"With respect to the drone inside of Iran, I'm not going to comment on intelligence matters that are classified," he said.
It was the first open confirmation by the U.S. that the drone was in Iranian hands.
"Are you concerned that it will be able to weaken America's national security by discovering intelligence from the fallen drone that it captured?" Mr. Obama was asked at the news conference.
Meanwhile, the U.S. said Iran is fearful of ideas to its people, which is indicated in the fact that it has blocked the Virtual Embassy Tehran. The Virtual Embassy Tehran was launched by the State Department last week in its attempt to reach out to the people of Iran directly.
U.S. ASKS IRAN TO RETURN SPY DRONE
By David S. Cloud and Ken Dilanian
Los Angeles Times
December 12, 2011
[PHOTO CAPTION: Amir Ali Hajizadeh, right, who commands the Revolutionary Guard’s Aerospace Forces, looks at the American RQ-170 Sentinel drone in a photo released last week by the Revolutionary Guard. Iran says it brought down the drone, but the U.S. says the craft must have malfunctioned.]
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration has sent a formal diplomatic request asking Iran to return the radar-evading drone aircraft that crashed on a CIA spying mission this month, but U.S. officials say they don't expect Iran will comply.
"We have asked for it back," Obama said Monday at a news conference in Washington with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki. "We'll see how the Iranians respond."
His comments marked the first public confirmation that the RQ-170 Sentinel drone now in Iranian hands is a U.S. aircraft, though U.S. officials privately acknowledged that in recent days. Iran has claimed it downed the stealthy surveillance drone, but U.S. officials say it malfunctioned.
Capture of the futuristic-looking unmanned spy plane has provided Tehran with a propaganda windfall. The government announced that it planned to clone and mass produce the bat-winged craft for use against its enemies.
The embarrassing loss of the CIA drone has focused attention on the use of an air base in western Afghanistan over the last several years to launch aerial surveillance missions against suspected nuclear facilities and other targets in neighboring Iran.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta called the U.S. request for return of the drone "appropriate," but he acknowledged that Iran's government, which last week lodged a formal complaint with the United Nations about the U.S. spy plane violating its airspace, was unlikely to send it back.
"I don't expect that will happen, but I think it's important to make that request," Panetta told reporters traveling with him aboard a U.S. military aircraft.
Officials declined to say how the U.S. filed the formal request. Washington doesn't have diplomatic relations with Tehran, and normally communicates through the Swiss government. Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, refused to discuss the issue, saying he would not comment on intelligence matters.
Iranian state media reported Monday that Iranian experts were recovering valuable data from the drone, which appeared relatively intact in photographs released by Iran, and were trying to reverse-engineer its unique capabilities.
Parviz Sarvari, head of the Iranian parliament's national security and foreign policy committee, said that Iran is "in the final steps of breaking into the aircraft's secret code."
"The findings will be used to support our accusations against the U.S.," Sarvari said in comments reported by the state-run Al Alam news channel.
Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who commands the Revolutionary Guard's Aerospace Forces, told the semiofficial Fars News Agency that the aircraft "was downed in Iran with minimum damage," according to Israel's *Haaretz* newspaper.
U.S. officials said they don't believe Iran's scientists can reverse-engineer the craft's stealth design and skin coating, which help it evade detection on radar. But they expressed concern that Iran may figure out the drone's flight path, and thus learn the CIA's surveillance targets inside Iran.
U.S. officials also are concerned that Iran could offer the drone to China or other U.S. rivals or adversaries that are building their own stealth aircraft, including drones.
Panetta said it was unclear how much Iran could glean from the recovered spy plane, or what condition it was in.
Iran said it downed the drone about 140 miles inside Iran through electronic warfare, suggesting hacking or signal jamming. U.S. officials say the aircraft malfunctioned and went down on its own.
IRAN SAYS IT WILL FLY ITS OWN STEALTH DRONE
By Paul Koring
Globe and Mail (Canada)
December 12, 2011
In the latest salvo in a heated propaganda war with the United States, Iran said it will quickly reverse-engineer the captured top-secret American spy plane and soon fly its own version of the stealth drone.
But to understand, manufacture, test, and fly such sophisticated pilotless spy planes would require years, if not decades, plus a global array of satellites. And Iran’s sanctions-strapped aviation industry is barely capable of keeping a few dozen aging commercial jetliners flying. Its air force is barely operational.
While Iran has trumpeted its capture of the RQ-170 Sentinel, America officials had only vaguely conceded that a drone was lost or missing while on a mission along Afghanistan’s border with Iran.
Now President Barack Obama provided the first official admission that Iran had plane. “We have asked for it back,” he said Monday. Tehran dismissed the notion it would return the RQ-170.
Washington accuses Tehran of secretly trying to build a nuclear bomb. Tehran says American and Israeli agents have been killing its scientists, conducting cyber attacks, and fomenting internal opposition.
Tehran first said its cyber warriors had seized control of the high-flying American drone as it spied on sensitive Iranian sites on Dec. 4, setting off the new spate of accusations and counter-claims. Smiling Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers were proudly displaying the seemingly intact, pale green bat-winged craft.
With fresh welds visible on its wings, it was dismissed by some analysts as a wooden model, but others disagree.
“If that’s a mock-up, those guys should work for Hollywood,” said Ty Rogoway, a Portland, Oregon-based defense analyst whose aviationintel.com website has featured a detailed and balanced examination of the evidence regarding whether the drone on display is genuine. “I’m now 99-per-cent certain it’s the real thing,” Mr. Rogoway said in an interview.
Little is unclassified about the RQ-170. It’s a stealth, high-flying, unmanned spy plane. Fitted with powerful cameras and an array of other sensors, it’s a still-experimental successor to the manned U-2 spy planes that flew hazardous missions during the Cold War. An RQ-170 reportedly kept an eye on Osama bin Laden’s lair and streamed real-time video of the raid that killed him back to a watching president.
Losing one (there may only be a handful) represents a major blow to the world’s sole remaining superpower. But for Iran, the real value may lie in propaganda and trade. The sensors and the radar-absorbing paint would be of considerable value to Russia and China. Both would pay dearly, in political support to Tehran as well as cash, for a hands-on examination of cutting-edge American stealth technology on a flying wing.
Losing the RQ-170 was the second major technology loss of an aircraft from the dark side of America’s military superiority. Last spring, a sophisticated, stealth helicopter was lost during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and while the special forces managed to blow up most of the downed chopper, its distinctive, radar-evading tail was carted away by the Pakistani military.
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