Iran to exhibit seized drones
TEHRAN / KABUL
A Heron drone at the Israeli army air base in Palmahim, Israel, is seen in this file photo. Four Israeli drones violated Iran’s airspace along its eastern borders, Iranian daily Tehran Times reported. AP photoIran plans to soon exhibit foreign spy drones it has captured and permit national reporters and foreign envoys based in Tehran to visit the display, according to a source linked to Iranian daily Tehran Times.
Iran has four Israeli and three U.S. drones in its possession, according to the Tehran Times.
A RQ-170 drone, known as the Sentinel, was lost over Iran two weeks ago. The Pentagon initially said only that it malfunctioned after being launched in western Afghanistan. It later emerged, however, that the drone had taken off from a base in Afghanistan and was flying a surveillance mission over Iran when it came down.
Iranian state TV broadcasted video Dec. 8 of what it said was the high-tech U.S. drone. The more than two minutes of footage showed Iranian military officials inspecting what state TV identified as the RQ-170 Sentinel drone.
U.S. President Barack Obama said Dec. 12 the United States had asked Iran to return the drone, but Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi dismissed the request while Iran’s Foreign Ministry said Obama should apologize rather than ask for its return. The upcoming exhibition will also feature Iran’s latest domestically manufactured electronic warfare equipment.
US insists on intelligence operations
Contrary to Iran’s statements, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Dec. 14 that the U.S. would continue to conduct intelligence operations from Afghanistan similar to the recent mission that led to the loss of the RQ-170 drone over Iran. Standing with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Panetta provided a cryptic response to questions about the lost drone, which has exposed details of the little-known U.S. intelligence and surveillance efforts aimed at Iran. The operations benefit both the U.S. and Afghanistan, Panetta said, according to the Associated Press.
“These are operations that I will not discuss publicly, other than to say that part and parcel of our effort to defend this country and to defend our country involves important intelligence operations that we will continue to pursue,” he said.
“Part and parcel of the effort to not only protect Afghanistan, but to protect the U.S. is to obtain important intelligence that allows us to be able to protect your people and to protect ours,” Panetta said.
Afghanistan was not aware that a drone had malfunctioned in Iran, Karzai said, adding that Tehran had asked Kabul for more information.
Meanwhile, Alaaddin Bourujerdi, head of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said Afghanistan should officially respond to the recent drone crash and added that the violation of Iranian airspace by an aircraft launched from Afghanistan was against the latter’s international commitments.