Tehran Confirms Seizure of NATO Aircraft
News Brief – October 8, 2008
Iran announced Tuesday that it had forced a Hungarian-crewed transport aircraft to land after it strayed into the Islamic republic's airspace at the end of September.
[PICTURE: Falcon passenger transport]
A Hungarian government official said the pilot of the Falcon jet, thought to have been rented from the US government, had been issued with an incorrect flight plan.
Those on board were questioned before being released and allowed to continue their journey.
The aircraft's passengers were reported to have been heading to join a contingent of Hungarian soldiers in Kabul running the Afghan capital's airport on behalf of NATO.
Shortly after straying into Iranian airspace the Falcon jet was intercepted by the Islamic republic’s fighters who escorted it to Tehran's Mehrabad airport where passengers and crew were questioned.
In effect, the aircraft was operating on behalf of NATO, transporting troops and personnel to the occupied Afghan capitol.
Tension is running high in the region. The US and Israel have not ruled out the use of military force should Iran continue with its nuclear programme.
A former senior Iranian official said Tehran believed the risk of a military strike by the US or Israel was very high, although the financial crisis in the US had made it more difficult.
"We believe it can even happen fairly quickly and we are closely watching recent moves by Americans, who have embarked on certain operations around Iran in preparation for possible military strike," he said.
Last updated 09/10/2008