Iran says it won’t return secret CIA spy drone it claims it shot from the sky

Last updated at 2:01 PM on 11th December 2011

Iran will not return a US surveillance drone captured by its armed forces, a senior commander of the country’s elite Revolutionary Guard said Sunday.

Gen Hossein Salami, deputy head of the Guard, said in remarks broadcast on state television that the violation of Iran’s airspace by the US drone was a ‘hostile act’ and warned of a ‘bigger’ response. He did not elaborate on what Tehran might do.

‘No one returns the symbol of aggression to the party that sought secret and vital intelligence related to the national security of a country,’ Salami said.

Keeping it: Iran says it will not return the US RQ-170 Sentinel high-altitude reconnaissance drone that crashed in Iran this week.

Iranian television broadcast video Thursday of Iranian military officials inspecting what it identified as the RQ-170 Sentinel drone.

Iranian state media have said the unmanned spy aircraft was detected over the eastern town of Kashmar, some 140 miles from the border with Afghanistan. US officials have acknowledged losing the drone.

Gen Salami called its capture a victory for Iran and a defeat for the U.S. in a complicated intelligence and technological battle.

‘Iran is among the few countries that possesses the most modern technology in the field of pilotless drones. The technology gap between Iran and the US is not much,’ he said.

Officers in the Guard, Iran’s most powerful military force, had previously claimed that the country’s armed forces brought down the surveillance aircraft with an electronic ambush, causing minimum damage to the drone.

Broke down: US officials say Iran had nothing to do with the drone crashing to earth. They contend it simply malfunctioned

American officials have said that US intelligence assessments indicate that Iran neither shot the drone down, nor used electronic or cybertechnology to force it from the sky.

They contend the drone malfunctioned. The officials had spoken anonymously in order to discuss the classified program.

But Gen Salami refused to provide more details of Iran’s claim to have captured the CIA-operated aircraft.

‘A party that wins in an intelligence battle doesn’t reveal its methods. We can’t elaborate on the methods we employed to intercept, control, discover and bring down the pilotless plane,’ he said.
Iran claims EU will not sanctions on oil production

The European Union ‘definitely’ will not impose sanctions on OPEC member Iran’s oil exports because such a measure would harm the global crude market, Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi said on Sunday.

EU leaders called on Friday for more sanctions against Iran by the end of January, in an effort to increase pressure on Tehran over its disputed nuclear program.

‘Our policy is sustainable supply of oil to Europe… Iran is a major oil producer and any sanctions on our oil export would harm the global market,’ Qasemi told a news conference.

Last week, EU foreign ministers agreed to develop new sanctions on Iran’s energy, transport and banking sectors.

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