Reuters – Nov 11, 2012
Iran believes a U.S. drone targeted by its forces this month was gathering intelligence on oil tankers off its shores, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander told the semi-official Mehr news agency on Sunday.
Washington said Iranian warplanes opened fire on an unarmed U.S. drone over international waters on November 1. Iran said it had repelled an aircraft violating its airspace.
The incident underlined the risk of escalation in tensions between the United States and Iran in an ongoing dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program.
“The drone was flying near Kharg Island and our understanding is that … it was gathering economic information and intelligence on Kharg Island and oil tankers (in the area),” Amir Ali Hajizadeh, a brigadier general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was quoted as saying by Mehr.
Facilities on Kharg Island handle most of Iran’s crude oil exports.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has some red lines that the Americans should understand and respect. If this is repeated, we will definitely react,” he added.
Washington, the EU and other bodies have imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil trade to press it to halt nuclear research the West fears is aimed at developing the capability to build a nuclear bomb.
The United States and Israel have not ruled out military action against Iran, if diplomacy fails to resolve the row.
Iran denies the charge saying its nuclear work is purely for peaceful purposes.
(Reporting by Zahra Hosseinian; Editing by Andrew Heavens)
Tehran Times – Nov 11, 2012
The deputy commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, said on Sunday that Iran has firm evidence that the U.S. drone, which was recently targeted by Iran, had entered the country’s airspace.
The Pentagon claimed on Thursday that Iranian warplanes fired at an unarmed U.S. drone in international airspace last week but did not hit the aircraft, according to Reuters.
Salami said, “We are fully aware of international regulations and do not attack any aircraft outside our country’s borders.”
The aircraft definitely violated the country’s airspace, and if it had not done so, Iran would not have attacked it, he added.
The commander of the Aerospace Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said on Sunday that the U.S. drone entered Iran’s airspace with the aim of spying and collecting information related to Iranian oil tankers, which were near Kharg Island.
He said, “We gave them (the United States) a warning, and in the event of a repetition, we will make a more serious response.”
According to the timeline provided by the Pentagon, two Iranian Sukhoi SU-25 aircraft intercepted the U.S. drone on November 1 at about 4:50 a.m. EST (0850 GMT) as it conducted a routine, but classified, surveillance mission over Persian Gulf waters about 16 nautical miles off the Iranian coast.
Pentagon spokesman George Little said the aircraft fired multiple rounds at the Predator drone and followed it for at least several miles as it moved farther away from Iranian airspace.
International airspace begins after 12 nautical miles and Little claimed the drone at no point entered Iranian airspace.