December 5, 2012 (TSR) – Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi said his country will take legal action against the United States at international courts over its “drone incursion” into the Islamic republic’s airspace in the Persian Gulf, Press TV reported Wednesday.
Salehi said the violation of Iran’s airspace by the U.S. ScanEagle drone would be used as an evidence against Washington at international courts, according to Press TV.
The U.S. cannot hide the fact that Iran has captured one of its unmanned drones, Head of the IRGC’s Public Relations Office General Ramadan Sharif said, Etemad newspaper reported.
Sharif noted that the U.S. should consider re-counting the number of their drones, adding that Iranian specialists have recently managed to extract the data from the captured drone.
AP reported yesterday citing U.S. Navy spokesman, who said no American drones are missing in the Middle East following Iranian claims it had captured an unmanned American surveillance aircraft.
The IRGC said more information would be released on the aircraft if necessary and rejected the US denial that it does not have any such aircraft in its drone fleet, saying Washington has to take a new tally of the aircraft.
The IRGC also said that it captured the drone almost undamaged and said the capture bore much more significance than the country’s last-year downing of an intruding US RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft.
“The US does not seek security, and it has violated the borders of Iran, gathering information on the oil tankers,” Sharif said.
Iran’s main export terminal is at Kharg Island.
The US government has focused on blocking Iran’s oil exports through sanctions to persuade Iran to give up its disputed nuclear program, which the US and its allies believe is aimed at developing a bomb, something Iran denies.
Israeli officials have threatened to strike Iran’s nuclear sites if sanctions and diplomacy fail to stop its program.
Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz – through which about 40 percent of the world’s seaborne crude oil is shipped – if it comes under attack. US commanders have said they will not let that happen.
The compact ScanEagle drone had been flying over the Gulf in the last few days and was captured when it strayed into Iranian airspace, the IRGC said in a statement on Tuesday.
The US military has been using Boeing Co ScanEagle spy planes since 2004 and they have become a relatively inexpensive way for the United States and others to conduct surveillance.
Iranian sources reported yesterday that the IRGC defense forces shot down the ScanEagle unmanned drone, after it violated Iran’s airspace.
“Yes, we have fully extracted the drone’s information…,” the IRGC Public Relations Department said on Wednesday, referring to the ScanEagle drone — a long-endurance aircraft built by Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing.
“The drone, in addition to gathering military information, had also been used to pursue gathering information in the field of energy, especially the transfer of oil from Iran’s oil terminals,” the department said, Press TV reported.
Disregard of the U.S. officials’ denial, the Iranian foreign minister said that “we formally protested such actions by the United States and announced that we would defend our borders by any means possible,” according to Press TV.
Salehi’s remarks were alluding to an earlier instance when another U.S. drone was downed by the Islamic republic. In December 2011, Iranian media reported that the Iranian military downed the U.S. RQ-170 stealth aircraft in the eastern part of Iran after finding it transgressing the eastern border.
U.S. officials later denied that the drone was brought down by Iran, insisting that its fall was due to mechanical problems.
In November 9, the United States said Iranian warplanes shot at a US surveillance drone flying in international airspace.
Iran said the aircraft had entered its airspace to spy on Iranian oil platforms and said it would respond “decisively” to any incursions according to Reuters.
It said that the capture of the aircraft helps discovery of “what kind of information they (the Americans) are after.”
Regarding the US denial of the existence of the aerial vehicle in its drone fleet, the department said, “The reaction, the Americans have to the capture of their drones indicates the importance of this matter to them. This is not something they can easily deny.”
The manner by which the aircraft was captured by the IRGC is very important and “it can even be said that the drone’s getting entangled in the IRGC Navy’s security net is more important than the [capture of] the RQ-170 [Sentinel] drone,” it said, referring to the Iranian military’s last-year downing of an intruding US drone, which was flying over the northeastern Iran city of Kashmar.
The Iranian lawmakers said capturing aggressor drones belonging to arrogant powers is but a small example of the capabilities of Iranian military forces, according to the report.
Also, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told semi-official Fars news agency Wednesday that “the powerful controlling of the U.S. drone is one of the signs of Iran’s progress in protecting its airspace.”
PHOTOS IRANIANS TOOK OF THE U.S. DRONE