Obama asks Iran to return downed U.S. surveillance drone
In press conference with Iraqi PM, U.S. President says: We have asked for it back. We'll see how the Iranians respond; Tehran cites capture as Iranian victory.
President Barack Obama is pressing his request that Iran return the U.S. surveillance drone captured by the country's armed forces.
Obama said he would not comment "on intelligence matters that are classified." But, he said during a White House news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki 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.
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 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.
Last week, Iranian state television displayed what it said was a downed U.S. surveillance drone, days after U.S. officials expressed concern that Tehran would be able to glean information about a classified military program.
According to the semi-official Fars news agency, in the televised segment, commander of the Revolutionary Guard's Aerospace Forces Amir Ali Hajizadeh said that Iranian forces uncovered the aircraft as it was about "to infiltrate our country's airspace for spying missions."
"[A]fter it entered the Eastern parts of the country, this aircraft fell into the trap of our armed forces and was downed in Iran with minimum damage," Hajizadeh told Fars.
According to the Iranian military official, the drone was "equipped with highly advanced surveillance, data gathering, electronic communication and radar systems," saying that "this kind of plane has been designed to evade radar systems and from the view point of technology it is amongst the most recent types of advanced aircraft used by the U.S."
"The technology used in this aircraft had already been used in B2 and F35 planes," Hajizadeh added, saying the "aircraft is controlled and guided through satellite link and land stations in Afghanistan and the United States."
"Military experts are well aware how precious the technological information of this drone is," Fars quoted Hajizadeh as saying.