A senior commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, General Hossein Salami, said on Sunday that Iran will not return a captured U.S. drone and promised a bigger response. He did not elaborate on what this response might be. The U.S. claims that the drone malfunctioned while being deployed along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border. Iran said that it penetrated more than 150 miles into Iranian airspace.
Iranian State Television broadcast a video on Thursday, which showed a drone, identified as the RQ 170 spy drone. State media said that the drone was detected near the eastern town of Kashmar, about 150 miles inside Iranian territory. Salami described the capture of the drone a victory and a defeat of the U.S. in a complicated intelligence and technological battle by Salami.
“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 U.S. is not much,” he said.
When Iran initially reported on the downed drone they claimed that it had been shot down by its Revolutionary Guard. U.S. Intelligence said that Iran neither shot down the drone nor did nor bring it down electronically with cyber technology. The U.S. is sticking to its initial claim that the drone malfunctioned.
Drones have also become an issue with Pakistan. After the killing of 24 of Pakistan’s soldiers, Pakistan announced yesterday that drones would no longer be permitted to fly in its airspace and would be shot down.
President Obama, during a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Malaki confirmed that the RQ 170 drone was in Iranian hands and that the United States had asked for its return. This was the first official acknowledgment by the Administration that the drone was in Iranian hands.
“We’ve asked for it back. We’ll see how the Iranians respond. With respect to the drone inside of Iran, I’m not going to comment on intelligence matters that are classified,” he said.